I Survived the Trip Down Memory Lane

I finally decided on a simple black dress. A knee length number with a bias cut and an asymmetrical hemline. Dressy enough to say, “I care.” Simple enough to say, “I don’t care too much.”
When Lee and I drove into Fitzgerald for my 10-year reunion weekend, I took a hard look at my old town. In some ways, it looks as if the years haven’t been easy. Some of the homes I’ve always admired on Central Avenue need painting, yardwork, new roofs. I know some key plants have closed, and I worry that the economy is shrinking. I took a drive past my old house, and down Merrimac Drive where my old church sits. Across the street is another church – one of those with the marquees out front always bearing some witty religious phrase. I sighed when I read the one for this week: “Life is hard. Afterlife don’t have to be.”
But in a few places, new businesses are being built. There is a new Super Wal-Mart (I don’t know if that’s good news or bad), and even a Zaxby’s. If that Zaxby’s had been there 10 years ago I’m sure my blood would’ve turned into buffalo sauce before graduation.
I wondered how my reunion would compare. Would we all be like some of those homes – showing wear? Or would we be growing, springing up new?
The night of the reunion, I fussed with my hair the whole way to the country club, thinking about the old friends I looked forward to seeing, and the old enemies – the ones I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see.
When I walked in the front doors, I was first struck by how little some people had changed. Sure, there were subtle changes, but there were no dramatic reveals or shocking entrances. People seemed to have aged well so far, and were pleasantly moving forward in life. It was good to see. The bar was also good to see.
I knew a glass of wine would help my nerves. However, I rembered when I went to Lee’s reunion at the same country club last year I ordered a glass of chardonnay, and the bartender looked at me as if I’d spoken jibberish. Then she asked, “Is that the red one or the white one?”
This time, I automatically ordered two glasses of “chardonnay – the white.”
I don’t know if it was the wine or the friends, but soon the tension slipped out of the room. We were old friends again, talking and laughing again. Getting to know each other again. Of course, there was a small contingent of boys sitting by the bar, watching football and drinking from the bottles of liquor they’d snuck in. Some things never change. But I was proud of my class.
Before I left, I found the girl who’d organized the reunion, and thanked her. I said I was already looking forward to our 20th. And although I’m sure I’ll face it with the same amount of trepidation, I wasn’t lying.