The Evas came first. Eva M and Eva N. Eva M carrying the same woodchip basket on her arm as she did all through high school. Back then it was filled with books and the binder for her job as the class prefect, keeping track of us. In the evenings those items were occasionally exchanged for wine for parties.
Then Karin and Åsa arrived. We were standing in the chilly afternoon at my front yard looking at each other, hugging hugging hugging, laughing. Is this for real? Is this really happening? I actually felt like I was inside a glass bubble. These familiar faces, together here…
Eva M, Eva N, Karin, Åsa and I spent the last two years in high school together, and this summer it’s 40 years since we graduated. The Evas, Karin and I live in Umeå, Åsa in Stockholm. Eva, Eva and I sang in Kammarkören Sångkraft (Sångkraft Chamber Choir) together for many years, and as Karin is an actor we used to bump in to each other at the Umeå cultural scene occasionally when I still was up and about. Åsa though… I can’t even remember when I last saw her. I have a vague memory from a line to a jazz concert many many years ago.
And here we were. 40 years later. Five women who left this specific constellation at the door step to the grown up professional life. Today, we are only a few years from closing the professional life. And in between. A life. Five lives.
The familiar basket on Eva M’s arm, it couldn’t be the same, could it? But yes it was, the very same, how is that even possible! And Wednesday evening it brought Eva’s fresh baked bruccetta and a bottle of wine. Very soon my kitchen table was filled with all sorts of delicatessen. And stories. Oh those stories.
As I was thinking of this evening to come during the days leading up to it, I knew it would be filled with life and death, laughter and tears. Some of us has been through severe difficulties, and I felt we probably would share. I was looking forward to that.
Thursday morning I woke up speechless. Grateful. Touched. Moved. Emotional. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. The whole day I was in some kind of unfocused wiggly fog where now and then strong and unmanageable feelings popped up like needles pinching me. Six hours with my highschool friends. I still don’t have words. Yet I will try.
Let me put it like this. If there had been a camera in my house Wednesday evening, we would have had five full length films. And they would all have been of the character you would have to watch them with a lot of space in between. Because it would just be too much to take in.
I am thinking about the Facebook lives we see. The lives presented through a tiny keyhole. The lives presented through the filters of happiness, smiles, tons of friends and success. The only things possible to present, because everything else would be perceived as pessimism, negativity or God forbid bitterness, words and state of minds so banned in this time and age you would be considered pariah spreading bad energy.
I am thinking, being a part of those stories shared on Wednesday evening, can it be that the five of us has been afflicted (or challenged as the contemporary term wood be) with lives exceptionally hard? I think to some degree we have. I am absolutely positive some people are hit harder by life than others. But I am also thinking, this is life. This is real life, which we all agreed on.
So, imagine most people struggling with their lives. Not just everyday struggle as having a cold, getting your kids to school, stomach flues or a demanding boss, but in depth struggles. Which remains to a large extent hidden because there is no place for despair, shame, sadness and grief in our lives anymore. Whatever happens to you, these times expect you to find the bright side of it and move on, forward upward. And the Facebook version will be “I am so grateful for being given this experience”.
Imagine that terrible world wide lie. Imagine that global pretending game. Imagine that sticky web of keeping your face. Everybody's face. Facebook is actually just the perfect name for the official version of our lives. Don’t you just want to puke? Not to talk about the great danger of not being allowed to grieve.
But on Wednesday evening five women who haven’t seen each other in this context in 40 years sat at my kitchen table sharing their lives with each other. I did too. And even though I felt like I took up a lot of time I just scratched the surface. Which we all did, what was room for during those hours was only fragments. Fragments of a life. Five lives. Still, no writer could have come up with the scene that evening. Fiction would not stand a chance against reality.
During the years I have often been thinking about my life, it would be an interesting dramatic film or a never ending TV-series, but I so wish I didn’t have to play the lead character. On Wednesday evening I realized my teen age friends too are lead characters in films they from time to time wouldn’t have written the script to themselves.
I am still trying to take in and harbor. And what is most amazing to me and moves me the most is how five women who sit down together after 40 years have such trust in each other. The trust to place our lives in each others hearts. The trust being that naked. That vulnerable. No pretending games. No faces kept. But embracing. For me Wednesday evening was a warm and cleansing bath washing the fake Facebook face of the world away and I am realizing it was a very long times since I felt that safe.
I am incredibly grateful. And I also feel a little bit less lonely. Sensing my friends also are main characters off and on struggling with the roles in the story of their life.