Best of Fish & Bicycles: “Big Chill” weekend…fortunately minus the big chill

Originally Published: March 2, 2010

Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 movie, The Big Chill, was and still is a very special film for me.

I was fortunate enough, in 10th grade, to find myself in a circle of friends that would become incredibly close and vitally important to me during those trying, coming-of-age years, through high school and college. When The Big Chill came out, we were in our senior year of high school, and while the friends in the movie were older and at different stages in their lives, we totally recognized and related to the easy comfort they had with each other, how they seemed to spend most of the film doing not much more than sitting around and talking.

We were, and as it turns out still are, VERY good at this.

This past weekend, I flew to, of all places, Dallas, Texas, to meet up with five folks from this circle of friends. No one wanted to go to Dallas, as it turns out none of us cared for the place in the least, but it was fairly equidistant for a group coming from the east and west coasts, and by the end of the weekend we all agreed that, in some ways, it makes more sense for us to choose a place that we have no interest at all in, since we spend most of the time hanging out in some room or another yapping. It sadly had been 10 years since we’d all been together, so we had a lot to cover after all.

We’re now in our mid-40s, and there were the predictable mid-life topics, like marriage/divorce, career, and health, along with 45 years to reminisce. And, as always, it was so comforting to share our stories with each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong, like the friends in The Big Chill, we had our moments of tension. We’re from New Jersey for crying out loud, so it’s in our DNA to argue, even at the risk of things getting heated.

But, as Tom Beringer’s character, Sam, said, after an intense exchange with William Hurt’s character, Nick:

I don’t care what you say. I know I’ve loved you and everyone else here. And I’ll believe that ’till I kick.

Every time we see each other, we mourn the fact that we don’t get together more often, act clueless as we wonder why we can’t seem to make it happen, and recommit to trying harder in the future. It’s really not that complicated. We live in five different states — New Jersey, New York, Maine, California, and Washington — our lives are busy and filled with work, family, and other friends, and it truly isn’t a reflection of the strength of our bonds that we can’t all seem to make the time.

Still, unlike The Big Chill, no one had to die to bring us all together, and I do feel a renewed sense of connection, and I already miss them. I, for one, am going to try harder. They are more than worth it.

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