Tomorrow I'm taking an overnight trip to Oriental to be with friends. Normally, I would spend the whole weekend there, but because of obligations on Saturday I have to come back.
I used to spend every Thursday night with these women. When we first started getting together, we committed to a year of once-a-week meetings and used Cheryl Richardson's book, Life Makeovers, for our discussions. I fixed dinner and we sat around my dining room table or on my deck. I took Wednesdays off to shop and fix the food, and a lot of love went into the preparations.
After the first year, we did another self-help book, Get Out of Your Own Way, and dug a little deeper into our lives, learned a lot about each other even though we'd been friends for many years. After that book, we tried several others, but a few of the women weren't really interested in continuing in the self-help/exploring vein. They wanted a place to come, relax, have dinner, and be with friends.
About the time that this was happening, I quit drinking. Then a year later, I quit smoking. And I realized something: as much as I loved fixing dinner and being with my friends, I loved learning about things too. And I also realized that a good deal of my motivation for setting up the gatherings was so that I could drink.
Fairly abruptly, I quit hosting the weekly gatherings. I don't know how my friends feel about my doing it--no one has said--and we started getting together once a month at different houses. It's a relaxed atmosphere, no agenda, snacks or light dinners prepared by the hostess.
It worked out for all of us, I guess, and I've involved myself in photography classes and writing class and am keeping an eye out for people who might want to form a book discussion group. For now I'm content to be at home on most Thursday nights when my husband plays music, and enjoy the solitude and quiet, and once a month relax with my friends.
It's going to be different this year at the Oriental Spirit of Christmas gathering because one of the regulars won't be there. We're going to miss you, Peetro.