|Taken by my son|
It's always nice to see my family and for them to see my son.
Yesterday afternoon I caught up with three of my closest, lifelong friends from primary school - we stayed friends during high school too, but we all met at primary school. The four of us catching up together doesn't happen that often now that I live in a sleepy coastal village, but now and then, when we do catch up, it's great.
I couldn't help but notice how we all are aging. The wrinkles. The grey hair. The extra bit of weight on all of us. The stress too, etched in our faces. I can see that we are all at the most stressful point of our lives. Three of us have kids, one is a single career woman who takes on far more work than she should. We all have pets and homes to look after. We all have huge financial loads to carry. I mean, we ended up talking about finances - life insurance - for goodness' sake! On what planet do four women get together and talk about the benefits of life cover? But we did.
It's a sign of our age and I just thought "I am really and truly middle aged now."
Our parents are aging. Two of us out of the four have deceased fathers. Two of us (not the same two) have three children each! Not me, clearly and I once again knew in my heart that having one child was, for me, the right decision.
Not only is education ludicrously expensive nowadays, but life in general is so costly. And things break and don't last, so now, you get families who constantly have to factor in buying new cars, new laptops, new appliances, all the time. I mean, on what planet do people replace their cars on a yearly basis? But one friend's husband wants her to do that.
In my dad's house is an old fridge/freezer that he had since he moved in to the house 28 years ago! Where do you get that nowadays? Modern life is crazy and greedy and too busy and nuts. It's also beautiful and vibrant, but mostly, it's nuts.
My one friend told the tale of her cousin, a gorgeous blonde woman, mother to three kids, who is going in to rehab for a cocaine addiction. I mean, what the....? And none of us were that shocked. This is the tale of modern life.
My other friend likes her wine. Heck, I like my wine too! I even know women who drink in the day.
I just thought to myself "We all have our coping mechanisms," and some of us cope worse than others, but at this stage of our lives, we really are all just coping. I don't think any of us has it easy.
I think the only way to stay sane is to realise that we are ALL going through the same shit. Different shit but the same, essentially. We need to be super kind and super gentle with ourselves. We need to throw judgment out of the window. We need to also let go of a lot of "stuff" we carry with ourselves.
It was so, SO good to see them again. These are the women I measure my life by. Not in a judging way, but in a marking-of-time way. As time moves us on, I see that we are all the same and none of us can escape the stress and the aging and the shit that life deals us. And yet, it was beautiful too. The one friend had her brand new four-ish month old baby with her, and his fat chubby cheeks and Gerber baby mouth were such a reminder that out of our old tired bodies comes new life.
And we reminded each other, in talking about the passing of a friend who is our age, 39, that our lives are fleeting but so precious.