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Senior Correspondent

The task of shopping for an appropriate dress for my nephew's wedding hit the urgent list last weekend when I realized the happy occasion was only two weeks away. A sense of panic set in, and I summoned the support of my oldest, dearest friends, Priscilla and Lena.

Fancy dresses are not my strong suit, and I needed reinforcements to transcend my hippie-at-heart fashion tendencies. Fortunately, the girls were more than up for the task. We hopped into Lena's big black Cadillac and headed north to Nordstrom, energized by our mission.

Throwing old paradigms aside, we ventured to the little-black-dress department and started pulling dresses of all colors and shapes from the racks. Our "dress consultant" located a dressing room large enough to accommodate 25 or so lovely dresses and 3 old-school chums. She made sure it was far enough away from her more subdued shoppers so that we would not – ahem – disturb the ambiance.

While the dresses were different in many respects, they seemed to have one thing in common – they were meant to be form-fitting. In other words, they were the kind of dresses that looked way better on hangers than on hippie-hearted women like me. But no worries. Lena and Priscilla were there to make it happen.

One zipped and yelled "Suck it up, Jeanne!" while the other critiqued. One ran for larger sizes while the other separated the "possible" from the "impossible." Several times we broke out into uncontrollable laughter as we caught ourselves in the wall-to-wall mirrors carrying on like teenagers shopping for prom. At one point, I mentioned that I felt just like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman." That set off a round of hooting and hollering. Somehow we had walked into the dressing room as mature business women and morphed into giggling high school girls. Had we traveled back in time to a prehistoric age that predated our adult responsibilities?

Ultimately, we had to summon our mature selves back into the room to make a decision. We agreed that the perfect dress would be the one we all agreed upon. Consensus was required. Our chaotic process yielded a perfect decision, once again proving that teamwork works. We, indeed, decided upon the "perfect dress."

While I am very pleased with my new dress and plan to enjoy it well beyond the wedding, I am completely blown away by my old friends. We may not see each other often, but when we do, an amazing thing happens – we just pick up where we left off. We also enjoy who we become when we get together for lunch, a shopping trip or a weekend adventure. We remember the carefree days when life was easy, and we bring a little "free and easy" back with us when we return to our present-day lives.

A new dress is pretty wonderful, but old friends? Priceless.

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