Time with friends is something we all need

Eighties rock boomed from my SUV’s stereo as I traveled south on the interstate on Friday morning, ahead of the weekend traffic of tri-state travelers, kayaks in tow on my way to Lake Koshkonong. It seemed fitting to jam to the tunes I grew up with on my way to see friends I grew up—three high school classmates.

Kori and Patti were driving in from the west and me from the north to meet at Traci’s summer getaway on the lake. I’d kayaked with Traci and Kori last summer, but had not seen Patti in years. I was looking forward to seeing these friends and catching up on our lives.

Long time, no see. Upon meeting, we caved and gave hugs, a welcome acknowledgement of our lifelong friendship, yet a rare gesture since COVID-19 hit our country. I’ve had so few hugs the past 12 weeks, it felt nice.

We commenced a perfunctory catch-up on the spot and then made our way to the water where the conversations continued to flow. We shared news from “home,” some happy and some heartbreaking, chatted about our kids—and Kori’s daughter’s recent wedding—our jobs, our travels (or lack thereof this year), our relationships.

Patti commented how her son had noticed “Ladies Day” marked on her calendar leading up to the day and kept asking her about it.

“Yes, I’m going to be gone, all day, and you’ll have to manage without me, and you’ll be fine,” she told him.

Even though we miss our children when we’re apart, we all need this time when we can simply be ourselves, instead of mom, chauffeur, cook and maid. Likewise, it was freeing to be away from work and computers, spouses and house/yard work.

This time with my friends was sustenance for my soul. We talked, we laughed, we cried as we paddled our way across the lake.

“I didn’t realize how much I needed this,” said Kori more than once. We all agreed.  

It’s not often enough that we step away from the noisy world and nonstop demands to take care of our soul.

“This is so wonderful,” said Patti as we paddled slowly, taking our time and enjoying the moment.

When we finally got back to shore, about four hours had passed! Even slowed by paddling homebound into the wind, none of us realized how many hours had gone by. We commented that we must get together more often, make this an annual tradition at minimum.

“Today was great!” we all said upon departure.

Yes, it truly was.

I drove home smiling from an enjoyable day, fatigued from the sun and exercise, singing to XM Radio’s “80s on 8” in honor of these dear high school friends.

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