You know how in the movie Now and Then, there's a group of four girls that are completely different from one another but somehow remain inseparable? I can relate. Jamie, Lindsay, and Sarah were my three best friends for most of my teen years. I met Jamie and Lindsay in a tree house eating turkey sandwiches, and we became fast friends. I met Sarah a few months later, through Jamie and Lindsay. Sarah and I had an instant, undeniable bond.
Every year for about six or seven years, I took a trip Up North with these three girls. We went to Jamie and Lindsay's dad's cottage in Gaylord, Michigan. there were a few summers we also went to their mom's cottage in Grayling, or there was the time we went to Traverse City. Once in a while we also made a trek out to Macinack Island. It didn't really matter where we were in the Great Lakes State, we always had fun.
I couldn't wait for Up North weekend to roll around each year. It was always around my birthday weekend, which made it that much more exciting. I was literally growing up with these girls. When we were younger, we'd agree on a CD to pop in the minivan CD player and play it for the whole trip, making up dances in the car and singing at the top of our lungs. It's funny how quickly our music tastes changed. One summer we were all about 98 Degrees and Aaron Cater, the next we matured to John Mayer. Gravity, baby.
When we arrived at the cottage we'd plop our stuff down in our rooms and make our beds. It didn't take us long to get outside. We'd sit at the picnic table looking over Heart Lake or hop in the paddle boat.
Most of our days Up North were spent playing Ponce. Ponce is kind of like solitaire, except you play in a group. It's addicting and intense. We were always laughing hysterically while we played and yelling at each other. We kept score and celebrated when we won. We'd all look at each other after we finished a game, and one of us would ask "again?". Duh.
While we played Ponce we sipped on Orange Pop, ate snacks and watched Nick Gas. That's a station that played old school Nickelodeon shows, including our favorite, Guts. We loved watching all those shows again and holding onto a piece of our childhood.
When it got to be close to dinner time, we'd all take turns in the shower and getting ready for dinner. We had several favorite restaurants up there. One of our favorite places to go was Big Buck, simply because of the cream soda drinks. Or Gobblers, famous for their turkey dishes. We'd all go to dinner, once in a while catch a movie, maybe visit the Elk Farm. And, of course, we'd go putt putt golfing at least once a trip. Plus, when we arrived back at the cottage for the night we had a bonfire, cuddled up in our hoodies and making s'mores.
I have countless hilarious memories of our trips Up North. Like the time we jumped on someone else's trampoline for just a second before scurrying back into our paddle boat. Or the time our paddle boat broke down and got stuck in the lake, forcing us to swim and push it all the way back. Or when we decided to have a talent show. The events of the weekend shifted a bit as we got older. We started keeping our eyes open for boys, we could drive ourselves around, we wanted to go out on the town.
One of the last times I can remember being Up North is being at Jamie and Lindsay's moms place. At that point, Sarah and I were 20, Lindsay 19 and Jamie 21. We were all in college now, and our lives we clearly starting to take different paths. On one of those nights, Jamie and I went for a drive. She shared things with me she had never said before, about her past and some of her fears. I will never forget that drive, and feeling so silly for never knowing these things about her. How had I just let it slip by me? We ended up at an A&W, and ordered root beer floats, continuing our conversation from the car.
That trip was, honestly, one of the last times I've seen Jamie, Lindsay, and Sarah. Sure we've seen each other over the years here and there, but nothing like what we had before as kids/teenagers. We always say we will, and try to make plans...and it's not that I don't want to see them, it's just we all have totally different lives. I blame myself, I know I can and should have tried harder to keep in touch with them.
I watched Now and Then this past weekend, though. Twice. And the entire time, I was thinking of my friend. Because we were Roberta, Sam, Teeny, and Chrissy, with our own adventures and special summer memories. So girls, if you're reading this, let's create some new ones. I mean it this time.