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OPINION: Whether at 13, 25 or 50, friendship is a constant

Patricia Halley lives in Rockville Centre.


At the end of the first "Sex and the City" movie, the friends take Samantha out to celebrate her 50th birthday and propose a toast. It is simply, "To Samantha. Fifty and fabulous."

It was a horrible movie - though probably better than this summer's "Sex and the City 2" offering - but I love that scene. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of the women and the 25-year-old girls they pass on their way in. They used to be those girls. And now they're toasting their friend - 50 and fabulous.

Last week, my two friends and I were also toasting each other. We go out every year to celebrate our birthdays, and this year, it was the big 5-0. The waiter asked if we were sisters. "Well, you're all very pretty," he said when we told him that we weren't.

And I thought, we are? At 50? My friends are definitely pretty. Beautiful in fact. They were beautiful at 13, at 25 and at 40.

I wonder if someone had told us at 13 that we'd still be friends at 50 whether we would have believed them. At 13, 50 would have sounded like our lives would be almost over. Well, our lives are far from over. But they certainly didn't play out the way we would have thought back when we were sporting hip huggers and halter tops.

At 13, Denise was the wildest of our not-so-wild bunch. She was hysterically funny and drop-dead gorgeous, like her mother. I think secretly we all wanted to be her. She drove the hottest car, had the best one-liners and we thought stand-up comedian would be her career of choice. But like the rest of us, she settled down, had beautiful children and never lost her ability to throw the absolute best parties.

At 13, Kerri had a boyfriend. From then on, she always had one. She was skinny, cool and a good friend. When she married Jack in her early 20s, we knew it would be "until death they do part." We just never could have imagined the day would come so soon: Sept. 11, 2001.

I'll never forget what she was wearing that day, how she wore her hair, how she looked when she picked her daughter up from school on that incredibly sunny afternoon. Did she look like a widow? No, she looked like my friend. And the girl who was never without a boyfriend hasn't even been on a date since her husband's life was cut short by a lunatic who never laid eyes on him, his wife or their three kids.

At 13, I was a bit of a rebel. I only ended up going to college because my mother told me I had to - but she didn't say for how long. I took my associate's degree and ran. I started working in the city and was pulled into a conversation on the train one morning with a guy I recognized from high school. We were married a year later.

It was one of the happiest days of my life. We had two beautiful boys, now 16 and 19. And this Saturday, they're going to their dad's house to spend the afternoon with him, his new wife and their two baby daughters.

How will my friends and I spend our Saturday? After breakfast and two "Law & Orders" with my boyfriend, I'll head down to the beach. Two miles west, Kerri will be at her cabana wondering what it would be like if Jack were sitting next to her now that their kids are almost 10 years older. Farther east, Denise will be on the beach in Quogue with her crew.

Life has definitely thrown us some unexpected curves. Luckily, all roads lead back to the beach - and each other. We sat there at 13 with our baby oil and reflectors. At 25, we brought our Brides magazines. Now, it's sunscreen and cell phones.

On the ride home, I'll drop the top on my convertible and think about what a great ride it's been. And dangling from the rearview mirror will be the gift Kerri gave us all to celebrate our 50th birthdays. A silver chain with a single word: "Fabulous."


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