Reunited

The 30th High School Reunion.  Great weekend – from quiet time at my place catching up with close friends*, to finding a connection with someone i’d only brushed by in my youth – the high school reunion flushed out memories, and helped me get ‘the rest of the story’ regarding long forgotten antics. 

It also provided an opportunity to dance like there is no tomorrow!  Through a mild hangover haze, here are glimpses…

– Was delighted that my re-discovered friend, DJ, was able to attend!  He had a stroke in February, and has made pretty good progress over the past seven months.  Now using a cane to walk, he has no use of his right arm.  Although tired from a long weekend of activities, he was having a good time – and i caught him cheering me from the side of the dance floor.  We managed quite a few giggles – and collected more than a few stares – when i gave him a “PG-13” version of a chair/lap dance.  Seemed reasonable, since i couldn’t drag him on the dance floor with me…

– Hook ups?  You betcha!  With much of the reunion planning taking place via Facebook, the opportunity for transparent and clandestine booty call was right there on the ol’ keyboard!  While pre-gaming at the hotel bar in the early evening with a woman i’ve known since i was 6 years old, we were comparing notes on who was going to be hooking up with whom.  Post-game analysis in her room at 4:30am?  We were pretty sure we’d gotten it right…

– Hanging with my two gal pals on Friday night, i was struck by the wide swings in the conversation.  Some talk of the past, more talk about the present… and a surprising amount of time spent talking about professional lives as managers, supervisors, and the amount of adult daycare we provide within our respective organizations.  (sigh)  Face it.  We’re old.

– Invariably, there is the “In Memoriam” moment.  Despite the fact that it was handled in a mildly awkward manner**, it was necessary to go through the list.  Since my friend, JW, died a mere six years after graduation, he was there.  After we were kicked out of the hotel ballroom at 11:30 pm, we moved to another nearby bar to continue hanging out together.  i stumbled into a woman, SD, who’d worked with JW after graduation for a few years….  Since 1986, i have been carrying the notion that he died from an accidental fall from a railroad bridge.  From SD i got a different story – that it was suicide.  That he’d killed himself after finding out he “had AIDS.  Guess i’ll never really know…

– Further conversation with DJ regarding the status of his physical therapy led to discussion on some ‘interim therapy’ he can accomplish on his own while waiting for transfer to another rehab facility.  Was there with another friend, MD, the delicious dancing boy that i’ve developed a terrible crush on, as we asked what DJ needed to keep making progress.  Books, phone calls were at the top of the list – easy to manage on his own, and working his eyes and voice.  i asked if he had internet, or was allowed pornography.  Seriously, folks, what better way to get that right arm back in shape!  MD noted that i’m more of a “Physical Terrorist” than a “Physical Therapist”…

– For all the talk about “old times”, i realized that i still believe my best years are ahead of me.  Whether or not i’m being overly optimistic remains to be seen, but i can’t tackle it any other way.  After closing the second bar of the evening, we retreated to a hotel room***.  Waiting for the keyholder to find her way back, we decided to get on with it.   i’ve come a long way from drinking ‘forties’ on the porch step.  That would be a bottle of Glenfiddich…

this was a staged photo. mostly.

* And watching my friend JM-P chase her five year old daughter around?  Priceless!

** Two of the Senior Class Officers turned down the dance music, stood at the podium, and announced a slide show/tribute to those from our class who have died.  Other than me saying “What the fuck? When did HE die?” perhaps a little too loudly, the transition between the ‘moment of silence’ and ‘Ok, let’s all get back to dancing!” could have used a better segue.

*** As a survivor of countless conference ‘hotel room parties’, i know better than to allow drunks into my room.  Been there.  Cleaned that toilet.

Time Traveling

daisyfae at 7:  [bouncing up and down beside my sister’s bed] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!”  i remember when i still believed in Santa Claus.  My friends were skeptics, but i wanted him to be real, so i resisted.  i didn’t give it up until my older brother spilled the beans a year later – leading my two older sisters to bark at him for being such an asshole. 

At seven, i remember getting a “Chatty Cathy” talking doll from Santa.  It scared the living shit out of me.  “i don’t want it!  There’s a SCARECROW inside it!”  Mom orchestrated the ritual overindulgence – only stockings could be opened on Christmas morning, and we could investigate the “Santa Gifts”, unwrapped presents for each of us under the tree. 

She wanted Christmas to last, so we had to have nutritious breakfast first – often a treat of Strawberry PopTarts.  One of us would be an elf, and presents were distributed in piles to each of us in the cramped living room.  As Maestro, she then instructed us on which gifts to open – one at a time, waiting so that we could see others open their gifts.  Directed chaos.  i was happy.
 
daisyfae at 16:  [slogging down the hallway, looking for coffee] My older sister and brother were already married with babies.  These marriages were already showing signs of implosion, but it was cool to have little kids around for the holidays.  Mom’s orchestrated ritual continued, but didn’t start before sunrise – my older siblings showed up later in the day, sugar-buzzed and over-stimulated children in tow.  Stockings?  Treats and plastic toys were replaced by deodorant and lip balm, but they were still overflowing. 

It was during the teen years that i finally let my sister, T,  know i’d figured out that “lesbian” thing, and that my best friend, JW, was gay too.  The gift i left for her under the tree was a pile of 35mm film*.  But the day before, i’d given her a couple of books – “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown and “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. Good teen gay-lit, given to me by my friend JW.  It was a turning point for us as sisters.
 
daisyfae at 21:[waking up in a strange bed, alone] It was my first Christmas away from home.  i’d been living with EJ for a couple years, and agreed to make the “parent trek” to Florida.  My first dinner with his family was memorable.  It was so quiet i could hear myself chewing!  A sound i’d never heard before at a family dinners because my clan yelled, threw dinner rolls and argued everything from music to philosophy over meals.  His parents were very sweet. 

Their house was perfect, uncluttered and understated.  i found myself missing the chaotic Christmas mornings of my childhood.  Just a little bit… Returning to the homestead for a Christmas visit the next week, i was comforted when i dumped out my Christmas stocking to find travel-sized toothpaste, shampoos and deodorant, along with candy and a smattering of cheap plastic crap.
 
daisyfae at 30:  [dragging ass outta bed as my young children tumble excitedly down the stairs, after i’d been up until 2am assembling kid toys]  We kept some of the same rules – no presents opened until we were all there, but stockings and “Santa Gifts” were fair game.  Breakfast of cookies and milk was perfectly acceptable.   i was in my “Super Working Mom” phase, and generally exhausted myself the weeks before Christmas with shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping – but i truly enjoyed it! 

The downside was always the travel.  My husband and i agreed – “As long as we have parents to visit, we will travel on Christmas.”  And so we did.  Never mind the fact that we never went ANYWHERE when we were young, our parents expected to see us for the holidays. 

Every other year we went wherever his folks were – usually Florida.  Palm trees with twinkie lights, Santa wearing shorts.  Waking up in strange beds on Christmas morning – for us and our children.  Typically driving 16 hours, we’d always have to anticipate weather challenges – dodging ice storms in the mountains of Tennessee. 

Alternate years?  Home for Christmas morning, but on the road to The Trailer Park by noon for the family visit.  Mom had taken the “directed chaos” to an entirely new level – attempting to pull off the same “one-at-a-time” gift opening ritual with a crowd now numbering close to 20, and in a living room more cluttered (and far less organized) than the interior of the International Space Station.  We returned home reeking of cigarette smoke, hauling trash bags of mostly “off target” gifts and generally very crabby.
 
daisyfae at 47: [bouncing up and down beside my children’s beds] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!” Not an over-abundance of gifts, but they are thoughtful.  Sometimes disgusting, but thoughtful.  Santa still shows up, reliably delivering ‘scratch off’ lottery tickets in the stockings.  We just hang out.  We eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  Friends drop in to eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  “Dog Wrasslin’” is the sport du jour.  i am happy.
 
It’s just another day, but it’s an annual pinning point.  Tripping us backwards through the joyful, the broken and empty.  The sweet and the bittersweet. 

The New Year has us looking forward…. but Christmas makes us time travelers.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
* i worked at Photo Bug and used my employee discount to buy gifts for all of my friends with cameras.  Like a FotoMat, it was a drive-up photo-processing facility.  We shipped film out and promised “next-day” service.  It causes me great pain, but i have been COMPLETELY unable to find photographic evidence of a Photo Buggery.  A 15’ x 15’ box with windows in a parking lot, and a 5’ tall smiling bee on the roof, spinning merrily while holding a camera.  Surely someone, somewhere, has a picture?!?