Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Big Chill

Once a month a group of my over-50 friends gets together for some fun. We go out to dinner, on a short road trip or some other activity. This month we got together for a movie night at our neighbors house. The movie choice? The Big Chill.

Back in the day this was a favorite of mine and I listen to the soundtrack all the time. I was interested to see if the movie held up over time. I suppose that some will say that it did not, but viewed through the lens of having been there, done that, it still strikes a chord.

What I wasn't prepared for was the way it would make me feel and the emotions it would stir.

My group of Big Chill friends were a half dozen young adults (late 20's) who gathered around the universe of my friend Susie T. She was just one of those people who had an energy that pulled people towards her. Our group was young and a mixture of guys and girls. None of us dated each other, we shared something more like a close sibling relationship, caring and being protective of each other, just having fun.

The movie brought me back to a time when we were young and hopeful, our whole lives before us. It was an interesting time to be alive and young. It was also just on the other side of great upheaval in our country.

Woe to the person who started dating one of us. They were forced to run the gauntlet of the group, having to endure our "tests" and hopefully gaining our approval.

This was before kids and heavy responsibilities. We'd gather at Mickey's house for the weekend, cooking chili and eating Triscuits, staying our pajamas all weekend, telling secrets and figuring out our lives.

If Susie was the female anchor of the group, her counterpart was a guy name Bill Wendell, who was known only as "Wendell". He was a big bear of a man with a soft heart and a protective spirit. We were like our own little universe , planets spinning around these two close friends.

After a few years wedding bells started to break up that old gang of mine. Wendell's corporate law career took him to the east coast. Mickey and his girlfriend Kathy wed and Susie set the date for her wedding to college sweetheart.

And then, everything changed. In an instant our group was devastated, thrust into the realities of adulthood and life.

Wendell lost his job in a downsizing just before Susie's wedding and he'd informed her he wouldn't be able to make the trip back to Illinois. On the eve of her wedding he and his fiance were in a horrific crash, killed instantly by a drunk driver.

Since his father lived in Florida, it took time for the news to filter down to us. Thankfully we sat unaware as Susie and David took their vows. We could not know that our lives had been changed forever.

One of my favorites, ever. From the Soundtrack of the Big Chill.

We we young.

Here's Procol Harum now.

Yes, we're older. What happened to all those years?

I would say that all this could send me into a mid-life crisis, but hey...... who do you know that lives to be 124?


LydaBabes Going Ons!!!! said...

You hit the nail on the head with that one......I was at my husband's 45th class reunion and I realized we are now our parents.....we all asked where did our lives and time go? It seemed like yesterday.......good write....

LydaBabes Going Ons!!!! said...

O, youth is wasted on the young.....

Anonymous said...

Most days I feel as though I am still the same girl I was. Well, except for a few lumps in the girlish figure here and there. I've been lucky not to lose any of my friends from those days to death. *knockin' on wood'

The Blue Ridge Gal

ellsworth said...

I've just turned 40 in the past year and sometimes I let myself think the same thoughts. What have I done, where did I go and most importantly where did the time go. You can go crazy if you think about it too often. Are there regrets, sure. But more often good times. This is the path that I'm on and no matter what, I plan to live it to it's fullest.

Perhaps being young at heart trumps just being young?

Great post.

Lucy said...

Sadly, I'm haunted not by what I did, but what I didn't do. When my mother was my age now, she was an old woman. I just simply do not feel nor think I look like she did. It's so strange this getting older. There's use the word again ... haunting about it. My dad's 99 and doesn't want to die. Not me. If I go tomorrow, it's okay. I can't fix or unfix things that have happened now anyway.

Becky K. said...

Ahhh time truly does fly. Faster and faster.

Interesting post that tells a tale of youth and friendship.

Life does take very unexpected twists. For sure.

Becky K.

Rue said...

I made the mistake of marrying one of the friends in our group and when we divorced it ended everything. I look back on it now and shake my head, but chalk it up to a life lesson.

It's funny because I don't realize how old I am until I look in a mirror. My mom told me the same thing when I was growing up and I thought she was nuts LOL Little did I know....


Vee said...

Okay, this is just eerie and I'm feeling a chill (maybe not a big one) but a chill all the same. Please verify that this is the first time I've visited your blog since you posted. ;>

Suzanne said...

Vee - It is indeed the first time. I've checked the last 100 visits and only one from Maine.

What's up? Am I reading minds again?

Rue - A few of my friends found out what a mistake that was too.

bv said...

life filled in that time. for my group, as most, it has been marriage, kids, divorces,illness,
death and all that fills up the between. to look at the big picture it is overwhelming. heavy man. this week end i will be with 7 friends who have been down this road together...about 55 years of together. we know each others soul.
love this post! even if it did make me cry.

Leslie T. said...

Life does indeed go by so quickly! I marvel at that fact, everytime I recall something and say, "Let's see, that was 35 years ago..." or whatever.
HUH???? How has that much time gone by?! How could it be that ANYTHING was 35 years ago, when I'm just 35 myself? Well, uh, no, let's see, I'm not quite still 35. Hmmmmmm, how could that be? :)
I can relate to your story also, in the regard that, when I was 18 I was in love with a phenomenal guy, and he was killed in a car accident. That changed my life forever.
Well, life, the journey, it's an interesting one. I always say that life hasn't quite turned out like we planned it, back in the sandbox. But it's a good run. Yep, life is good.
As always, I love your post.

J'Ollie Primitives said...

What happened to all those years? With any luck at all, they were lived with joy, day by day.

georgie said...

You know what is scary? When you look in the mirror and realize how you are aging and looking more and more like your mother. Then she tells you that as you get older gravity takes over and everything droops, your feet get wider, you still get PMS and the chin hairs just turn white.
The other is seeing musicians from your youth on those reunion specials. How come they look so old?

Katie May J. said...

Loved this entry.

Louise said...


Great post, even if a bit grown-up and real. Not that you aren't grown-up and real. You are. This is just so SERIOUS. Sometimes we pretend life isn't so serious.

Brenda said...

Where does the time go? I know how you feel, I will be 50 next year and have a really hard time putting that number down.

Karen Deborah said...

will you still need me will you still feed me when I'm 64?

And 64 ain't even close to bein old. guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

boy does this bring back memories! Thanks so much. C

Thirkellgirl said...

One of my favorite movies EVER. And one of the best movie soundtracks EVER. Thanks for the utube. :)