Wanting Wasabi Wisdom for All

I wish all women could have a yearly dose of Wasabi Wisdom.  “Wasabi” is a goofy name for a group of women who change my life each fall.

Sixteen of us lived together in both sides of a campus duplex our senior year in college, 26 years ago.  We split up to marry, have children, head to graduate school, create lives. And 15 years after graduation we came back together.  

Now we see each other yearly, as many of us as can get there, with the “there” moving around to vacation homes, rented camps, urban hotels.

We sit in a circle from the time the last one arrives on Friday until the first one leaves on Sunday, with breaks for meal preparation, wine pouring and a long walk or hike. The agenda is listening.  If there is any agenda. Listening to hear. Not listening to solve or fix. Just listening.

We are diverse.  Geographically spread out from California to Georgia, from Arizona to New York.  We are Democrat and Republican, employed and at home, quiet and talkative, scientist and artist, doctor and patient.  We are free to flip-flop year to year between feeling weak and strong, admitting defeat and admitting strength.

We each probably have one or two with whom we stay in better contact throughout the year. Various combinations of us are closer than others. As a group we vacillate between flurries of emails and virtually no contact. We are not each other’s daily people, the carpool drivers, the contingency friends, the co-laborers for better schools or communities, the work colleagues, the Friday Night Supper Club people or the emergency contacts on the children’s school forms.

Yet when the reunion weekend arrives, we travel there to be a group.  We listen, we catch up, we learn from each other and we disperse again.

Bearing gifts.  

So today I thank these sisters for these particular gifts:

  • Examples of heroic efforts on behalf of struggling children or parents
  • Hanging in there in marriage year to year as faithful witnesses of longevity and commitment
  • Speaking the truth about disappointments and losses and hopes not realized so that we can all feel less alone and more connected
  • Sharing lists of books read and movies seen, tips on hormonal issues and hot flashes, recipes with fiber, parenting wisdom (only when asked), marital encouragement, cheerleading for dreams still “out there,” tears over each other’s stories, a ton of laughter
  • A lack of gossip, comparison or jealousy
  • Prioritizing our time together
  • The gift of themselves offered and not held back
  • Acceptance of me when all that was there was (barely perceptible) potential

Part of the beauty of an (only) yearly gathering as opposed to having dailyness is that we are each other’s barometers and measuring sticks.  Like marking on the wall how much growth there has been since last time. The pencil marks don’t lie. 

We are each other’s institutional memory and witnesses to the years’ joys and sorrows, to the trends, the patterns, the progress, the process.

So when one said to me yesterday as I was leaving; “It’s so great to see you so happy.  I bet it feels great not to be a basket-case,” all I could think was, “Yes, that’s true.  Every word of it.  And she knows.  And she — and all of them — helped me grow. And still bear witness to it.” Faithfully.

I desperately want all the women (and men) I love to have a circle of gathered grace and gifts like this. I’m thankful for Wasabi Wisdom.

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~ by Cary on November 3, 2008.

8 Responses to “Wanting Wasabi Wisdom for All”

  1. Wow, Cary, sounds like I missed a winner this year! Love you, B.

  2. Cary, I have never been able to articulate why our time together is so amazing. You did! xoxo. L.

  3. Wow! That is SO true….and so beautifully captured by you! Thanks-D

  4. Well – as one of the Wasabis who WASN’T there this year, I can say you articulated exactly what it is I love about this group. And the many reasons it’s such a gift to me and to all of us. And, as so often, you said it much better than I could have myself. So KEEP ON WRITING — which is something I’ve been saying all these years, year in, year out. I believe you finally do KNOW, bone-deep, what a gift you have. Primarily: an ability to track GRACE and then to share it in a way that many diverse others can hear… if that ain’t preaching the gospel, I don’t know what is!

  5. I’ve wondered how my wife always returns from Wasabiland more excited, refreshed and reconnected. Now I know. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and your lives, so honestly, together.

  6. Cary, What a gift this reflection is! I can’t wait to share it with David and my mom. You captured all those intangibles so beautifully… Thank you for writing it, and for being a treasured Wasabi! Love, Tandy

  7. Thanks for putting words around “the Wasabi” us, Cary. Thanks for learning to listen so well and for being so bold to do the stuff you’re about out there…you akways amaze me. Love you! Barbara

  8. […] My beloved “Wasabis” (whom I wrote about last year after our reunion) – a group of 16 who meet up yearly, college friends who have bonded more since than during college, in my opinion. […]

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