Earlier this week, my phone rang and the name of one of my long lost tennis buddies was on the display. I used to play tennis at least once a week with a group of moms from my son’s private school in the San Fernando Valley. We took group tennis instruction from another child’s mom, and we would also play doubles about once a week.
It was a great way to exercise, and to share the joys and exasperations of being parents. I loved my tennis pals, and working the tennis into my schedule as a free lance stage manager was pretty easy, since I didn’t have to go to the theatre most days until after noon or early evening. Win win.
However, when I became a production manager at a university, my days became filled with work, and along with the commute, my tennis hours waned, my happy hours with “the girls” diminishing until finally they ceased all together. I just couldn’t seem to organize the time.
So many times in our lives, we form tribes of close friends based on our needs and availabilities, and the proximity of people whose needs and goals are similar to ours. This happens so frequently as parents. We are thrown together with others because of our children, and frequently find new friends as a result.
When our son was about four, we joined the Beeman Park Tribe, where assorted parents spent hours socializing on the hard concrete benches while our kids ran around the park like little maniacs and only reported back to us that Albert, the ice cream truck driver had arrived. Hint, hint. My butt still bears the indentations of those benches and our family increased by one when we adopted a dog, whom we named Molly Dogg, from one of the other Beeman Park tribe members.
Later, when our son was about 10, my tennis tribe was formed which provided so many hours of fun. Suzanne’s invitation to dinner on Saturday was well timed, and it had been a long time since I had had a happy social occasion with them. Initially, when I saw Suzanne’s name on the phone, I went to the dark place – “Oh no! Something has happened to one of my friends.” And yet, the minute I answered the phone, Suzanne reassured me that all was well and she was organizing a “Girls’ Night Out” at her home. This is 6 years out from the last time we played tennis – or maybe even 7 years out. I was so pleased to be invited.
Suzanne hadn’t told the others that she had invited me and that I had agreed to come, so when I rang the doorbell, and fellow tribe member Susie opened the door, she shrieked, and I shrieked, and we did a happy hug before going in to surprise Shelley, my doubles partner. It was truly joyous to see them. This is one strong group of women. In the past seven years each one has been through life events that would bring the less strong to their knees, and they remain so strong and so loyal to each other and, happily, I realized, even in my absence, to me.
It was exhilarating to know that though I had “left my tribe” that they had remained in tact and had continued on, and now welcomed me back to their loving midst. Two of their daughters were there, both accomplished young women in their own rights, and it was great to hear how their lives are shaping up. The others, whose children weren’t there, had happy tales to tell of their accomplishments and the table was littered with happy pictures of them on our phones.
So, join me in making a pledge to make someone’s day by picking up the phone as Suzanne did, and reminding someone of the tribe they once belonged to. Let them know how much they are missed.