One of the positive benefits of Facebook has been reconnecting with some friends I grew up with in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. One friend started a private group called "Fabulous Forties Fitness and Health" to foster encouragement and accountability in our shared goal of being healthy. The conversation threads in this group have gone way beyond the original purpose and we have been able to support one another through many ups and downs of life.
One of these women was my very first friend in Glen Ridge. I moved to that town and started a new school in March of my first grade year and Sue was someone who came up to me on the playground and asked me to play with her. To be welcomed in at that point of the school year was a huge thing for me.
Others in the Fab Forties group met in middle school, when we all came together from three elementary schools into one middle school, and then moved on to high school together. Some of us were in the high school marching band together and many of us ate lunch together most every day during the school year. There are two women in the group who got "grandfathered" in due to being the "little sisters" of two of us in the group. I personally love that this group is something that I can share with my sister and am glad that "my friends" have accepted her in our circle.
I was able to see some of these women when I went to NJ last Labor Day weekend and it was fun to reunite after many years. Since everyone except my sister and I live in the northeast (NJ, NY, MD), they have had a fascination with Nashville and wanted to visit us here. Another common thread among a few of us is that we have February birthdays, so the idea for a "birthday" trip to Nashville was planted.Somehow everyone's schedule worked out and tickets were purchased to come to "Nashvegas" on February 22-24.
Jeanette and I hosted most of the friends in our homes and since we live one mile from each other, it worked out well. It also happened that Daniel was out of town that weekend for a school band trip, so we borrowed his car to use.
There were some potential roadblocks for some of the friends in getting here, but thankfully, everyone was able to come as planned and arrived on time with no baggage lost in transit. We also put in an order for some great weather for the weekend they were here and God answered our prayer. The weekend was near perfect for late February in Tennessee: sunshine, mild temperatures, no threat of ice or snow. Jeanette and I got a kick out of the conversations on the night before everyone flew here, asking about what to pack, what kind of coat(s) to bring, etc. I think we convinced them that wool was not necessary and just to bring some good layering options and comfortable shoes.
And speaking of footwear, three of our friends wanted to buy some cowboy boots while they were here, so we took them to a boot store downtown and they each found a pair to take home. We also took them to the Pancake Pantry, Centennial Park, a honky-tonk club playing live music, and to one of the nicest dining experiences at the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel (where one of our friends stayed). Oh, and their trip to Nashville was not complete without a visit to the Opryland Hotel.
We spent plenty of time talking, laughing, reminiscing together about our years together in school. Amazingly, there are many common threads between us in our current lives (motherhood, juggling work and home responsibilities, aging parents, loss of parents). We were also able to worship together at Grace on Sunday morning, something that was especially meaningful for me and Jeanette to be able to share that part of our lives with our friends who come from different backgrounds.
After many hugs and good-byes, Jeanette and I dropped off our friends at the Nashville airport on Sunday afternoon. We loved that they continued their Nashville experience by grabbing some barbecue in the airport before heading out of town. It is our hope and plan to have more of these reunions and that we won't have to wait twenty-something years before we do it again!