The four of us will come together at a beach house once again. We’ll take stock of the wreckage eighty years has wrought to each of our bodies, smiling and remarking on the undamaged parts, hair or feet or narrow bodies, flinching a little at the age’s toll we see in each other’s slow steps, sun damaged skin, crevasses at the edge of lips, irises grayed by the medicine several of us drop into our eyes each night.
It’s appropriate that we meet this summer because my novel, based on our past comings-together, UPRUSH, was published this spring. My friends read the original manuscript written five years ago and gave me their permission to go ahead with it, even though, in my story, one become a Lesbian, another marries a video-taping philanderer, and a third is sure the priest she loves will break down and love her back. Pure fiction. The fourth woman is the most fictional of all, an author of enough successful books to become quite famous, buy a large stucco Spanish house, keep a long-haired blacksmith as her amanuens and her lover. Well, I can dream, can’t I?
This meeting will find us husbandless, except for me–none of us with feisty lovers on our doorsteps. At eighty, one looks backward much more than forward; we’ll share stories about almost-forgotten sorority sisters, dead old boyfriends, past professions, our latest volunteer chores. Perhaps this year we’ll schedule a session of plucking chin hairs with our tweezers as we did one year. We’ll certainly anguish over the tags of skin that appear regularly on our necks, legs. We’ll hand around photos of smiling cheeks and bright youthful eyes that look a little like ours.
We’ll celebrate with a glass of wine or two our survivals despite the frightening, painful, unexpected events that have shaken us over the years. Some of our off spring will become subjects of “Oh, my God’ conversations. No one is perfect, we’ll say, especially a parent. We’ll spend time consoling each other’s imperfections.
And when I come back home to my computer, I wonder if I’ll have another book churning in me. Like I did five years ago. About old ladies. Maybe one of them is working on being crazy; another in false eyelashes is still looking for a warm body to wrap her arms around; another is afraid of the end of the road and the unmapped territory she’s knows is ahead; and the fourth uses a special computer to talk her stories into because her fingers have become knobs. They decide to live together, divide the chores, make long lists, writ large, of everyone’s appointments and medicines on the chalkboard in the kitchen. And maybe they will do what the author in UPRUSH suggests: they’ll hire the yard boy to do more than mow the lawn. At least until his mother finds out.
Damn! This is how a story gets born. I hope my friends like it.