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Some years have a certain standout quality, an importance that makes us say “Remember when…” For the Friedmans, 2000 was one of those years.

On the New Year’s Eve that began the year, the one most of us regarded as the new millennium, we had gathered as a family because it seemed important to be together. It wasn’t easy then, and it isn’t now, to collect our clan, let alone add in-laws and extended family. But that New Year’s Eve, we managed.

Among us were toddlers – four of our ultimately seven grandchildren – and two nonagenarians, with lots of us in between.

I remember that gathering year for the sweetness of being together, and because for reasons I can’t explain, I sobbed as the Times Square ball dropped. It was all so momentous, and we had all feared some sort of computer apocalypse we called Y2K. Remember?

Y2K never happened, and the world let out a collective sigh of relief and went about its business. But in our household, it wasn’t business as usual.

My husband had announced his retirement from a long judicial career that year, and truth be told, both he and I were nervous. Retirement would mark a huge life transition for both of us. What would it be like?

For him, would it be like falling off a cliff into an abyss? For me, would it mark a collision of wills about who ran the ship of state called home? For us, would it mark a feeling of suddenly being out of the mainstream after years of juggling our working lives?

The answer: none of the above.

Vic’s retirement, while indeed a noticeable transition, allowed us to exhale and gave us the huge bonus of freedom that we somehow hadn’t factored into our worries. I couldn’t quite believe it when a man whose most consuming interest in adult life was law went off to take a sculpture class.

Sculpture? Who knew that was even a hidden desire? But there was my guy, chipping away at mounds of clay at Moorestown’s Perkins Center for the Arts. On an antique desk in our living room is the proof: a female form that will forever remain as another marker of 2000’s new beginnings.

Time played tricks on us that year. When it came to planning the last wedding of a Friedman daughter, the months seemed like minutes. But on schedule, 2000 melted into 2001, and Amy married her David on a perfect day.

Score one for Mother Nature, who cooperated with a father and mother of the bride who agonized for months about a garden becoming a swamp, à la the movie “Father of the Bride.” Didn’t happen.

We were a more innocent world because 9/11 hadn’t yet happened. We can hope to return to that innocence, no matter what the prophets of doom say.

Now to my own life those 15 years ago: In 2000, I was a frenzied freelance writer who found myself about to be associated with a new magazine that seemed straight out of my dreams.

The audience would be local, the focus would be on us, not that world on the other side of the Ben Franklin Bridge, and the vibe was family- friendly, lively, meaningful and intelligent.

I proudly stepped on board and haven’t disembarked since.

Some of you, my South Jersey neighbors, remind me of why “living out loud,” as Marianne, Maury and I tend to do, is such a gift. You connect with us, you care and you seem happy that not only did this miracle of timing and mutual trust happen; it has lasted for 15 years and grows as it goes.

I am so proud to be part of SJ. It’s like figuratively taking your arm in mine each month, as we walk together through our SJ lives. Thanks so much for sharing the journey.

March 2015
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