Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Love My Clan

Years ago, when I was a freshman in high school, my friend Jarrod told his dad that he would be going out with his friends that night. His dad said, "You mean your clan?" Jarrod asked what he meant, and his dad said, "You guys are closer than just friends. You're closer than a family. You're a clan." And thus the Dunlap Clan was born.

Even back then, people seemed able to tell that our friendships were something special. Our old band director, the much beloved Kaiser, once told me, "You know, if I've ever seen a group of high school friends that will be close forever, it's you guys." We spent basically every Friday and Saturday night together, attending movies, eating at Maid-Rite and Monicals, and hanging out in each other's basements. Most of us were in the band, and many of us shared other extracurriculars as well. We attended every high school dance as a group. We spent hours on the phone. They were the best friends I could have ever asked for. And even now, 10+ years later, whenever we get together, spouses, kids, and all, it's like nothing has changed. We just pick right up where we left off.

We used to do road trips to visit each other all the time during college, and in the first few years out of college, we were all in each other's weddings. Since the babies started arriving, though, travel has been a lot harder. When some of us attended our high school reunion in the fall, though, we decided that it was high time for us to organize a weekend all our own to get caught up.

So this past weekend, six of the original Clan members, plus their significfant others and children, made the journey to Indianapolis, where Derek (an original Clan member himself) and I have both settled. Jarrod, his wife Trisha, and their son 2-year-old son Jay arrived at my house from Peoria, IL, around 10:00 Friday night, and we had been visiting for about a half an hour when Tony, his wife Zoe, their 2-year-old son Connor, and their 2-month-old daughter Abby arrived from near St. Louis. We threw the kids in bed, and all the adults stayed up way too late talking. That same night, Melissa and her husband Rob arrived from Champaign-Urbana to stay at Derek's (all the people with kids stayed at my house, and all the childless ones stayed at Derek's).

In the morning, we were joined by Chuck and Crissy from Champaign-Urbana via Lafayette (to visit Crissy's parents), Maria and her boyfriend Jason from Chicago, and Matt, his wife Anita, and their 1-year-old daughter Asha from Chicago. It was so incredibly great to see everyone again! The kids took to each other right away, and once we all got organized, we headed out for some fun at Chuck E. Cheese.

Our original idea had been to go to the zoo, but between the nasty weather and Race for the Cure blocking the zoo entrance, we amended our plans. The idea was that the kids could all run their energy off, but as you can see, the adults managed to get in some playing as well. We went through a ridiculous amount of tokens and actually won enough tickets to purchase decent prizes for the kids. We also ate a lot of pizza, took many cute pictures of the kids, and somehow managed to have good catch-up conversations in spite of the chaos around us.

Shay and Abby were incredibly well-behaved and laidback in spite of all the noise surrounding them. They spent most of the time chilling next to each other in their carseats. Both of them actually napped while we were there. The 2-year-olds, however, did not fare quite so well. By the time we were ready to leave, Bryn was a sobbing mess, Jay had been sustained only by eating the biggest popsicle I had ever seen, and Connor promptly conked out.

Here's a shot of the "oldest" kids on Sunday morning when they had recovered from all their adventures. Bryn is obviously the one standing. Jay is on the right in the jersey, and Connor is in the left on the polo. They're all within four months of each other and played beautifully together. Connor and Jay quickly discovered a shared love for monster trucks, and before the end of the weekend, Bryn was in there battling for cars as well. Tony commented on how well-behaved all our kids were and said that it was a reflection on us as a group--and I really have to agree. I love that they all had so much fun together.... we may have a "Clan: The Next Generation" on our hands! (and no, Jarrod and Derek, that does not mean that I am sanctioning any videotaping!)

We mostly just hung out at the houses the rest of the time. We had a cookout here on Saturday night, and we all had a great time getting caught up.... and reliving some embarrassing high school (and college) memories. Here's a shot of the whole group. One thing that I really contemplated during the weekend is how much I like all my friends' spouses. I had just as much fun visiting with the spouses as I did with the original Clan members. Back in high school and college, I think we all dated people that the rest of the Clan didn't like. In retrospect, it would really have saved us all a lot of time, trouble, and heartache to put significant others through the Clan test first!

Anyway, thank you to all for a wonderful weekend. I know many of us said, "Why don't we do this more often?" and I definitely agree that we should. Love to you all!

Also, a quick shout-out to David, Damon, Corey (and Liz, Lainey, and Ella), Caroline (and Cosmos), Nicole, Jolyne, Jason, and Ashley (and Steve). We wish you could have joined us this weekend! You were definitely missed, and we're hoping that you'll all be able to make it to the next reunion, whenever and wherever that is!


Ragfield said...

Jay is on the right in the jersey, and Connor is in the left on the polo

Are you sure about that?

It was great seeing you all.


amypfan said...