Friday, February 14, 2014

"No Such Thing": A Throwback Real-time Memoir

Dug this out of the drafts today. Back in September, I flew to southern Oregon for my ten-year high school reunion. I wrote about it at the time, but somehow never published what I wrote. So here it is now.

Sharis in the rain. The quintessential high school in Oregon experience. 

Friday, September 20, 2013
2:30 pm
It's been a long day of travel but I'm here safe and sound. It seemed like there were so many obstacles to me getting here that it didn't quite hit me that I could go until I was here. Felt like an adult getting a rental car at the airport.
It's surreal to drive around and not have any idea where you are, even though its your hometown. I finally realized I was in Central Point, because I drove past the elementary school where I used to volunteer with Jared Doshier.
Hotel is cheap...hidden behind the Motel 6 where Mom would always stay, near the Dairy Queen. It's far from classy, but only terrifying enough to lend a sense of adventure to the trip. Like, the fan and lights may not have covers, but the walls are painted a stylish shade of blue. Had a brief moment of alarm when the shower faucet emitted orange water, but it cleared after a few seconds. I just won't drink it.
Meeting the old gang of drama/choir girls at Fichtner Park in half an hour. I'm debating about whether or not to take a Xanax. On the one hand, it's a little tranquilizing, but on the other hand, fear is equally paralyzing and far more uncomfortable. I truly haven't seen these girls in ten years. I'm self-conscious about the massive zit on my chin, but hey, these are friends. And I simply didn't want to go through the effort of packing and putting on and taking off makeup.
I'm going to try and find Fichtner Park from memory. (The GPS is in the car as a backup plan.)

Friday, September 20, 2013
6:34 pm
I did take half a Xanax, but I don't think I needed it. Everything fell right back into place...our friendships picked up right where we had left off. Of course, our circumstances are different...namely, half of us have children now, and our conversations were punctuated by the occasional "Don't eat that please," and "Yes, I see you, good job." But other than that, so much remained the same. Sarah still talks with her hands. Brette still tells great stories. Kristin is still proactive and passionate. Mekela has the same sweet smile. Amanda has the same wonderful way of talking. Sarah is still the serene and kind friend she always was.
We had all agreed to meet at a park, partly because it was the park where we would eat in high school and partly so the kids could entertain themselves. I got there and sat in the car for a few minutes, a little bit at a loss about how to proceed. For one thing, I didn't have anyone's phone numbers, and for another, I was terrified. I sat there thinking, "How do I do this?" until I finally replied to myself, "You just do it. That's how." I got out of the car and walked toward the playground, scanning for familiar faces when I noticed Brette, with baby George on her hip. We hugged and suddenly re-connecting wasn't hard at all. I didn't need all the social advice I'd been giving myself all day. Things just happened on their own.
Everyone else soon arrived, and we talked about the things that have changed for us...some joys, some surprises, some tragedies. Unexpected pregnancies, dream jobs, family crises, and accomplished goals. I'm excited for tomorrow. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013
10:29 am
When you don't have television at home, that's one of the luxuries of staying in a hotel. I might have laid in bed in my underwear and watched 3 hours of "Say Yes to the Dress" last night.

Saturday, September 21, 2013
1:57 pm
Enjoying fish and chips at the Black Sheep pub in Ashland. Was tempted to catch a matinee at OSF, but remembered how poor we are and resisted. Had visions of spending the day lounging in Lithia Park, but it's grey and rainy. I did end up putting on the makeup I bought yesterday at Fred Meyer in a traditional compulsive Fred Meyer splurge. Take that, adult acne.
Spent this morning driving around a few old familiar haunts...old high school, old Medford house. (That house is so ugly now. Ugh. Orange and brown paint, and the huge backyard is now an entire second house.) Wishing it was warmer...I could do with some wild blackberries while sitting in Bear Creek Park. I could be happy living in Southern Oregon.
I think a drive back to Medford and lounging/exploring until the shindig tonight.
(Maybe I should run my lines...?)

Sunday, September 22, 2013
9:59 pm
Yeah, I never ran my lines. Instead I had an awesome time with wonderful friends whom I haven't seen in years. And it was worth it. :) My voice was kinda gone for a lot of today from yelling over music last night. It was awesome.
I had a similar moment of paralysis in the parking lot when I got to the reunion...a brief sitting-in-the-car-feeling-uncertain. But then I saw Amanda, and just like in high school, she was there by my side. The winery where we had the reunion was gorgeous, out in Applegate, with great pasta and lovely views.

The DJ played music from high school, and we all talked for hours and hours. It was fun to simultaneously reconnect and learn about our new selves. We haven't changed so much as grown more into ourselves. In high school, you're still this scared teenager, even if high school is a good experience for you. But in ten years, a lot of the fear and "phases" have sloughed away to reveal more of who we are. There was something beautiful about recognizing that in each other.
At the end of the night, it was Brette, Kristen and her husband Adam, Sarah and her husband Caleb, and I, just standing in the parking lot, talking until the people at the winery told us they were closing the gates. It was close to 11 and I had said about an hour earlier that I had to head home but then kept enjoying the conversation. Someone said they heard a few people went to the Jacksonville Tavern and suggested we go. At first I was was late, I was tired, it was a long day ahead of me. But then I thought, "Hell. I haven't seen these people in ten years, and who knows when we'll all be together again. To the tavern!" It was crowded and loud and wonderful. I said something about getting a Shirley Temple, but when I got to the bar, Kristen was turning around with a Shirley Temple in her hand. She handed it to me with a wink and said, "It's an honor to buy you your first drink."
I decided that Kristen and her husband are a much cooler, more realized version of Jacob and I and that we should all four of us be friends and do that thing where we have each other over for dinner. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival said they hire about 8 couples every year...maybe we will move to southern Oregon.
The next morning was breakfast with Jesse and Kathleeny and little Danny, whose existence still makes me so happy. Also, the food was amazing. As usual. It was so good to see them again, however briefly.
That afternoon was playing with Georgia and cuddling Ruth while chatting with Carrie and Scott. Georgia wore this outfit:

And also told me that my legs were hairy. But then she got wrapped in a blanket and leaned her little head on my shoulder until I laid her in bed, so I didn't mind the hairy legs comment. Besides, it was true.

I keep trying to come up with a non-cliche word or phrase to describe this weekend. But my creativity fails me so I'll just conclude by saying it was just what I needed.