Hawaii Five-O–a JUBILEE

I am turning 50 in late December. That’s right, the big Five-O! Let the celebration begin.

I recently learned that a jubilee is actually from the Old Testament. It occurs on the 50th year after seven cycles of seven years.

“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families. “

While the jubilee year is more directly related to fields and property, I feel a different meaning. I am not referring to the slave part, but I can totally relate to this being a time of freedom and celebration. I am making sure that this year is clearly that. I can even stretch the idea  to visiting with my childhood friends and the chance to reconnect to our past as a way of receiving back my original property!

I started this celebration at the beginning of my vacation last summer when I had lunch in New Jersey with my childhood friend Anne Blumenstein, whom I’ve known since 3rd grade, right before her 50th birthday and continued at the end of the trip having brunch with our other friend, Jennifer Lorvick, in Marin County. She turned 50 on April 1–no fooling.

I met Jennifer and Angie for lunch in Santa Rosa in July. Jennifer is to the left of me.

I had lunch with Anne in New Jersey in July.

The three of us were on the newspaper staff together in high school and have remained friends ever since. It’s too bad we couldn’t have lunch all together. But I was happy to eat twice on two different coasts!

It really heated up last week when I traveled to Southern California to join Kathy (Brown) Goetsch, to celebrate her big Five-O. I was not going to miss this one. And I don’t plan to stop this party until the end of the year!

If I didn’t call you while I was in So. Cal., please forgive me. We’ll catch up another time. I am sure that I will be back.

I’ve learned over the years that on these short trips I cannot get together with every friend I’ve ever known when I was growing up. I’ve also found that gathering with groups of them can be somewhat unsatisfactory. While I get to see a lot of people at the same time, we don’t really get a chance to catch up in any meaningful way. The older I get, the more meaning I seek.

On this trip I was very strategic in my choices. Besides Kathy’s big event, I only saw three people who also turned 50 this year: Donna (Freed) Paul, Jon Sherman and Margo (Boston) Ludwig. Let me explain.

Margo and I went to pre-school together. That is how long I have known her. Our parents carpooled and we played. By the time we got to Jr. High we chose different social circles, but the fact that we were classmates in pre-school, McComber Jr. High School, Sunny Hills High School and UCLA makes for a pretty long shared history. We have remained connected.

Outside the delicious Mexican restaurant where I had lunch with Margo.

She  invited me to her party last July, but I couldn’t make it. Our October afternoon together where she lives in beautiful South Laguna Beach totally made up for it.

Then there’s Jon Sherman. Not only did we go to elementary, Jr. high and high school together, but we were passengers together in the infamous Hebrew School carpool of our childhood days!

My Hebrew School classmates from my trip last January. Jon is the one who is right next to me.

One of my mother’s favorite stories was of another parent calling to suggest that if Jon and I did not stop fighting in the back seat that she would no longer pick us up and take us to our weekday afternoon Hebrew study. We were active in Temple youth group together and were generally Jewish together in our home town of Buena Park, California.

Now that I think of it, we were also on our high school newspaper staff together. Hmmmm, I’m starting to detect a theme of carpools and newspapers and Jews. I couldn’t have planned it better.

I have to mention that Jon’s wife Melanie also celebrated her 50th birthday this year. I always enjoy socializing with this couple and catching up, our backseat fighting a thing of the past. I wish I hadn’t forgotten to take a picture!

Donna and I were roommates for several years after graduating from college. Even though we were English majors at UCLA at the same time, we didn’t really connect until later when we were both Sunday school teachers at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills and became roommates the summer before I entered the teaching program at UCLA. She still lives in the area and has embraced dancing hula in L.A.!

Donna and I enjoyed a nice afternoon together in downtown Culver City.

And now for the main event: Kathy Goetsch’s 50th birthday celebration extravaganza in Fullerton, California and beyond. We had a blast and it was just like being back in high school.

Our friend Carmen came south from the Seattle area so that we could celebrate together. Kathy’s husband, Billy, hosted a party in Kathy’s honor and many other childhood friends showed up.

Carmen, Kathy and me in Kathy’s backyard before                 her 50th birthday party.

Jody (Cheechov)  Nolan was there. I’ve known Jody longer than I’ve known Kathy. We were in the same girl scout troupe and all cruised together in high school. Kathy and I were in her wedding many moons ago.

High School Reunion in Kathy’s backyard at her  50th birthday party: Carmen, Kathy, Jody and me.

Lori Goetsch came too. She’s Kathy’s sister-in-law and I knew her before I knew Kathy. Did I mention that Kathy’s husband was classmates with my older sister and we grew up down the block from each other?

Kathy’s sister-in-law Lori Goetsch is also a childhood classmate of mine. We were on the swim team together in elementary school.

The party was a great success and we ladies got up on Friday morning, packed our bags and headed for Long Beach where we boarded the Catalina Express to spend a weekend together talking story, eating lots of awesome Mexican food, listening to music, drinking a bit too much, sharing old memories and making new ones.

The ladies before boarding the Catalina Express.

Catalina Island

Colleen, me, Kathy and Carmen at a jazz concert in Catalina.

Las chicas at the cantina. At least by age 50 we are certainly old enough to have an adult beverage or two….

When I say it was just like high school, I really mean it. Carmen’s laugh is just the same, coming just a few seconds behind the rest. Kathy won’t stop teasing me–even if I’m not laughing anymore. Jody still loves her cats and we all have a great time together. We may have married, matured, had kids, got new cats, but fundamentally these ladies have not changed. That’s what makes it so cool.

We had fun together then and we have a great time together now. We care about each other and take care of each other. It is such a pleasure to reconnect and quite reassuring to realize that I chose such wonderful friends in my youth that are totally worth hanging on to.

I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years enjoying their friendship.