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edieflowerchild

This past weekend, I took a time travel trip back 36 years to 1979. It was a period of my life that will be embedded in my cells forever. Not only was it when I began cutting my teeth on counseling skills, but it was also when I entered into life long friendships with some of the most amazing people on the planet. Each of them a creative soul, with a desire to do good work in the world.

The setting was Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in rural South Jersey. Most of us were in psychology, sociology or educational tracts. What led me through the portal of a one story building on Delsea Drive called Together, Inc. was the desire to have practical, hands on experience as a newbie therapist who had Psychology 101 cred. This multi-faceted crisis intervention center was where I learned techniques and tools that I put to use personally and professionally. It was also where I had the experience of staying up all night, answering crisis calls from people who were facing their demons and were looking to us to offer support and resources. It was during those times, in between calls, that life, the Universe and everything conversations took place with my co-workers/friends. We explored the nature of existence, relationships, what makes people tick, consciousness, environmental concerns, political and social activism, music, sex and spirituality.

Across the street was the shelter that housed runaway and homeless youth. In the four years that I worked there, initially as a volunteer and eventually as paid staff, numerous hurting kids came through those doors. Not much older than they were, I attempted to provide guidance. One memorable episode took place when a teenaged girl came in and had a seizure and then went into cardiac arrest. Three of us began CPR after 911 was called and she was revived and then I had the lovely experience of her vomiting on me. Never was I so glad to have that happen.

A more enjoyable activity was taking paint brushes and multi-hued paints and decorating the building. The stair railings and walls were rainbow splashed, as we let loose our creativity. I think we may have intentionally painted each other too.

Weekends would sometimes take us to the TLA  on South Street in Philadelphia to see the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We didn’t just sit back and take in the movie. We were active participants, complete with costumes, makeup and props. To this day, I can still rock a mean ‘Time Warp’ .

One of my favorite movies is The Big Chill.  It tells the tale of college friends who reunite a decade or so later at the funeral of one of their group. When we watched it, we said “That will be us.” In many ways, it was. Over the years, we have seen each others through marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren, widowhood, health crises, triumphs and tribulations and the deaths of four of our friends.

We have had a few opportunities for reunions. Each time, it is as if no time has passed and we pick up where we left off. This weekend was no exception for me. Grateful hugs, music, catching up conversations and yummy potluck food were plentiful. Chuck and Albert strummed guitars while Pat, Cliff, Joe, Bonnie, Peggy, Seth, Marianne and I sang along. I have to admit, we sounded pretty good. Lest we forget the lyrics, Chuck had provided us with booklets that had songs ranging from the Beatles to Dylan.

Loved the speaker phone conversation with Cathy and Kevin who were back home in Jacksonville at a wedding, so were only with us in spirit. Missed Susan, Christine, Gina, Amy, Mira, Babs, Terri,  David and other absent friends who were engaged in life elsewhere.

Oh, and the pictures … superstars being stalked by paparazzi had nothing on us. We wanted to be sure to capture the moments. Cliff and Pat had brought old photos (see shot above:) that reminded us of what babies we were back then. On the flip side, what reminded us of how we had indeed aged, was that while sitting on the back steps of Albert’s house, for last minute photos, we needed to help each other up and there was some groaning and creaking in the process.

This idealistic flower child still believes that she can make the world a more loving, colorful and healed place one act at a time, most especially in the company of kindred spirits who join her in the fun and frolic.

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