Still laughing after all these years

Hold that full-body massage. Snuff out the aromatherapy. Keep your relaxation tapes and cancel the psych appointment. All I need for complete relaxation and renewal is a little time with my sorority sisters.

These are women I have known for more than four decades. There is no need for pretense or to impress anyone. Not only have I known them more than half my life, but we knew each other when. We shared our “salad days” as Shakespeare so perfectly named them. Gathering with them is group therapy at its finest.

These women know me in a way no others do. This summer, they had been providing enormous moral support throughout a life crisis, but that wasn’t enough. Two of the dearest ones decided they needed to make that miserable drive down from Los Angeles on a Friday and kidnap me for a night away. It was the perfect remedy. I can’t remember when I have felt so loved.

We laughed our way through college, and laughter sustains us still. My sides hurt. My makeup is smeared. I was reminded that we became and have remained chums because we sense humor in the same way, in the same places. Actually, we sense humor pretty much everywhere. We laughed loudly, teased, used old nicknames and told stories on each other and ourselves. We all went home feeling uplifted.

Calling up the ancient tradition of women, we also shared wisdom. It was the age-old art of keeping our world on its proper course and finding solutions when you thought there were none. There was so much life experience and comfort there, I could lay my burden down for a while, and found it far lighter when shouldered again.

We talked about life and children and men in tight jeans. We talked about books and how to breathe. We discussed education and supermarkets and menopause. Did I also mention that we also ate all our favorite foods until we could hardly wiggle? Every woman knows you cannot solve the world’s problems on an empty stomach. A good wine often helps, as well.

We examined our hearts with great care, each scrutinizing the others to see if all was well. If a wound was found or confessed, we talked until it was healed. When a tender spot was detected, they soothed and strengthened. If small victories were at hand, we offered that sweet praise which can be gotten nowhere else. We were purged and then filled up again. And then we laughed some more.

The hilarity was buoyed even higher by the knowledge that when we were 18, or even 25, we might have been disdainful of this crowd of silly women sitting there laughing until they fell over. What can you possibly have to laugh about when you are over 60?

Everything. Absolutely everything.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is renewed, restored and maybe just a teensy bit hung-over.

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