Once upon a time, lo those many years ago, there were four boys growing up in the Chicago suburbs. We’ll refer to them as The Libertyville Four. They are pictured here in high school, although they went much farther back, with two of them having become best friends as long ago as second grade.
These particular guys had a lot in common: all of them very bright and curious, good students, interested in music and theater, able to debate the details of anything you put in front of them – whether they knew anything about it or not – until late into the night over bad coffee at the local Denny’s. And handsome: just look at them! They suffered the usual teenage angst and had their ups and downs, as you’d expect. They even formed their own band, the Satan Alex Choir, which perhaps none of us needs to hear (*ducking*).
But something about these friendships? Well, they held. They stuck.
Over the years, these four guys – having gone to colleges near and far – got married, each in turn, and settled down in one big city after another, eventually having children of their own. One is in Seattle, another in St. Paul, a third in Brooklyn, and – of course – the fourth is now here in Chicago. They stood up for each other in their weddings, but these were the only times the four were in one place at the same time in all the years since high school. And as anyone who has ever been married or for that matter attended a wedding knows, that meant there was always one who could not exactly relax and hang out all weekend. That’s not to say that the guys’ families haven’t gotten together whenever possible, and that we haven’t all known each other well over the years, we just hadn’t all been together in the same place.
Fast forward 18 years from the Senior Prom to 2009. One of the wives has a family cabin in Wisconsin and her parents generously allowed The Libertyville Four and all of their wives and children to spend a weekend in it. This was not just any cabin – it had more than enough room for all of us, and the amenities were beyond compare. A lake in the backyard complete with more rafts than you can imagine, a motor boat, a hot tub on the deck. You name it, that cabin had it.
And this was not just any weekend. It was a time to reconnect, to get to know each other’s children better, and to talk, and talk, and then talk some more. To put the kids to bed and sit around exhausted for a while and then get our second wind and make the most of the nights together. Try to imagine four couples who adore each other, who could split up in any combination at any moment and be able to talk, laugh and simply enjoy each other’s company for hours.
And then imagine seven young children, ours being the eldest, who form bonds immediately and get along swimmingly for 4 days. Toddlers who are proficient in sign language sitting in a circle playing with trucks. Preschoolers playing “bunnies” and Lincoln Logs, and an 8-year old who entertains them all by reading to them, feeding them breakfast, and playing whatever they want.
In the end, The Libertyville Four has become The Libertyville Fifteen.
Thank you, Matt, Alex, Kevin, and Ryan, for choosing such compatible wives and passing on your fabulous qualities to all of our beautiful children. I feel so lucky to have every single one of you and your families in my life.
And may we never have to wait another 18 years to all be together. Love to you all.