Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: 20-year reunion

Friday, October 28, 2005

20-year reunion

I just returned from my 20-year high school reunion. What a trip! The town I grew up in is much the same as it was--only a little more worse for the wear. I got there early and drove around the deserted downtown. Wal-Mart killed it more than 10 years ago and then left. The high school is now where the Wal-mart used to be. I bought some flowers and took them out to my grandparents grave. I got a little sad at the thought that here they were, lying in earth that wasn't even theirs. They were from dry-farming country up in West Texas but had lived their last twenty years close to my parents in this small Central Texas town. I left the cemetary and drove around some more--a little lost. I had several hours to kill before the reunion, so I took the chance that my childhood friend's mother would be home. Sure enough, like clockwork, I see rugs resting over the rail and know that it's cleaning day in the Brien household. We visited and made beds (I napped) and then she fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we were off to see the property: her daughter's house, her son's business, some old friends from church who work with their family. It was a reunion of sorts in itself.

Later, I met my friend for dinner at Mary's and then we headed out to the football game. High school football in Texas is a ritual that most people from the east or west coasts would find completely foreign, yet here it still exists, blazing in all its glory. Fathers screaming at their sons to live out some uncompleted life of their own; girls in their outfits looking good for the guys who will probably end up marrying one of them eventually; the band is still the band.

It was a perfect night. October in Texas is lovely. Our team won the game. Then we're off to the banquet hall. Only a few people showed up, but we danced and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning talking about nothing. I later find out some of the tragedies my friends have lived with and through in the past 20 years. But for that evening, it was suspended animation. Very little talk of work, very little talk of family, just shooting the proverbial S___. I think it was a relief to everyone that we didn't compare successes and failures. There was no bravado. There was a little "what could have been," but even that was cut short by the reality of life in the present moment. I think that is what struck me most. How very real everyone was. However surreal it may have felt.

I was reminded that I have friends. I was reminded that home never really looks like what you'd like it to, but it is home nevertheless. I was reminded of where I come from: good people.


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