This weekend I spent a good portion of my time at the beach sitting under a tent where my sightline took in four shades of blue on the horizon.
Breezes from the shore made the 90 degree Florida temperatures palatable as long as the shelter of the shade protected me. I was joined under the tent and our umbrella annex by somewhere between 9 and 11 people, the number and seating arrangements changing like people moving in and out of a fast motion time lapse video.
It was the occasion of our annual (less annual in recent years) Memorial Day Weekend at the beach with my poker group. Our fivesome (formerly sixsome) have been meeting once a month for twenty-five years to play what we loosely described as “poker”. Now just because two of the women are doctors, two are lawyers, and one a stockbroker does not mean anyone really knew what beats what in this insipid game. The constant query was, “now does five of a kind beat a royal straight flush?” (this speaks volumes about the kind of game we played- the more wild cards the better). Our monthly Minyan –while there are no men, everyone is Jewish (I was Jewish for eleven years so I’m grandmothered in) morphed into Mahjong (for about two seconds until we recognized our ineptitude) and finally a dominos game called Schmutz. A lot of eating, talking, laughing, and more eating occurs on these nights. (Alcohol was more present in our 30s, 40s, and 50s).
Our vision of a minyan was to gather together regularly and to “be there for one another”. We have shared two marriages, seven births, a conversion from Catholicism to Judaism and Straight to Gay, seven Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, graduations from high schools and colleges, a Ph.D. or two, three grandchildren, and countless surgeries, health scares, and emotional meltdowns. We kvetch and kvell (complain and brag) about our partners, kids, and each other. And we love each other in a way that only belongs to families who have weathered many climate changes.
I was awash with memories of the last 25 years this weekend as I sat next to bearded, buff men I once saw in basinets not so many years ago. I called my kids in route to my Orlando home to share the latest news and meander through memories.
The longevity of our group has made us somewhat notorious (fun at 65 to be notorious). I catch murmurings of “oh, she’s in the poker group. Other friends have commented, “someone will have to die before anyone else can get into the poker group”. That makes me feel special.
“How have you stayed together all these years”, I’ve been asked. “We show up”, I reply. It takes organizational skill to coordinate six schedules, twelve times a year plus special occasions. Maybe we have missed a few months over 25 years, but I can’t really think of when. I know Memorial Day is about honoring the men and women who have risked their lives protecting our way of life, for which I am truly grateful. But this weekend I’m also honoring these relationships which have helped sustain and nurture my quality of life all these many years. #deeprelationshipsarepriceless.