Prom and Circumstance

Senior Prom "THEN"

At most high schools around the country the school year-end  is near and for seniors the biggest American ritual of all is about to take place.  It is not the pomp and circumstance of graduation, it is senior prom.

The planning for prom is especially fun for girls. My daughter, Hailey, who otherwise is a jean-loving teen is happily looking on-line at dresses. The new thing is to post a picture on Facebook of the frock selected in order to make sure no one else steals your runway moment.  And while her generation goes shopping together for dresses on-line it is still the same rite of passage.

Watching Hailey brings back fond memories of my own final months in high school, especially since I spent this past weekend on a girlfriend getaway with my own BFFs.  It was a reunion of the women who were my childhood friends and our last gathering was nine years ago.  At our prom, we had the good foresight to get all five of us, sans dates, in a picture that we now recreate each time we are together. The pictures of us in this blog are “then” and “now.”


We grew up in Encino, Calif. and attended Birmingham High School.

 Since that time we have lived in the East, Midwest and South and we are now all settled on the West Coast, ranging from L.A. to Seattle. We were so tight to begin with that even though life has taken us down different paths; we still love being with each other.

We talked all weekend, and barely took time out for sleep. Although the core of our discussions has changed, the core of our characters has not. Topics ranged from careers to cooking and parenthood to politics, but they were still through the lenses of Smartest, Class Clown and Friendliest.

As is often the case with treasured long-time friends, we can poke at each other’s foibles without being mean.  We laughed more deeply than we have in a long, long time – to the point that our bellies hurt.  Our reading glasses might betray our age, but our sense of humor, at least to us, was ageless.

It seemed as if time had stood still, but we had a stark reminder that indeed it had not. Melanie’s father, Richard, had passed away at Thanksgiving and we had a sobering evening when she shared the tribute that had been played at her dad’s memorial service. We sat silently as she told the life story of this wonderful man that we knew as kids. We cried in appreciation of his long joyful life, and his last days with his family before he died of cancer.

I was particularly moved by the pictures of Richard and his best friend of 65 years, who passed away six weeks after him.  I wondered if it would be the same with us. We know that we have many moments like these to share in the future and it is comforting to know that we have lifelong girlfriends to balance out our moments of joy and sorrow.

While driving back to the airport, we tried to lay a finger on why our girlfriend getaway was so amazingly fun.  Pam offered, ”Your friends know you better than you know yourself.  Friends see things in you that you don’t see.” Melanie pointed out that, “Good friends have a long-term perspective. We have known each other longer than we’ve known our spouses. We’ve seen each other through our traumatic and trying teenage years, when we weren’t fully formed and worked through our issues together.” Finally, Melissa said, “Friends are a repository of each other’s memories – good and bad.”

As we said our goodbyes we vowed to take another trip together in two years, because nine years is too long to be apart from good friends.

Carol Lewis Gullstad April 18, 2011




  1. It is classic. Blow-dryers were a wonderful invention.

  2. Love the feathered hair, Carol!


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