Monday, July 23, 2007

Just Jump Right In

It's so hard to start this. I've got no sense of coherence to it at all. I think the only way to do it is in a listy sort of form. The most important thing is that I had a fabulous time and I'm so very glad I went. No, I didn't talk to a lot of these people in high school, I didn't have a ton in common with them back then and I have probably less in common with them now (no kids, no "regular" job and, weirdly I'm the only person of the folk I spoke to that lives in New York) and yet, when I just jumped in and started talking to people it was good. I tried not to let too much of my crap from high school get in the way. I mean it did, there are some people I thought I might try to talk to and it just didn't fly because I couldn't get over myself and stuff that happened to me 20 years ago but I talked to so very many people that I'm OK with giving myself a pass on the ones I couldn't manage.

Part of what helped me be so very brave was good wingpeople. Suzanne and her family and Janet and her family had committed beforehand to hanging with me and they weren't just whistling dixie. Even when I struck out on my own or got lost in a crowd I wasn't by myself for long, someone always appeared at my side and joined in or opened up a conversation for me if I was the one doing the appearing.

Possibly my favorite moment of the whole day was early on in the state park part of the festivities. You know, the daytime stuff I was all afraid of that I thought I might not want to go to? Yeah. Well, I'd made it just inside the designated area for groups but not much farther since I just keep talking to people and I was standing talking to Suzanne, Janet and the Actuary when my phone rang. It was the drummer calling to say that he wasn't going to be able to make it after all. He's working on a fairly involved jazz fusion sort of project with a guy from Haiti and another guy who was coming in from New York and he just wasn't going to be able to make it up to the dinner after that. I was disappointed but it was great to hear his voice and we talked for a bit before he asked, "So, how's Janet?" I said, "Don't take my word for it, hold on." I passed my phone to her and didn't get it back for probably 20 minutes. He talked to everyone in the circle. I had a fleeting moment of thinking, "Oh, I hope that doesn't make him uncomfortable. I hope it wasn't too pushy of me." When I got my phone back, though, the drummer was chuckling and he said, "That was fun." So we talked some more and I asked if I could talk to him some about my CD and we talked about getting together in NY or New England and then I signed off very energized by the connection that everyone had made.

A little while later I was walking across the lawn to the table that Janet's family had staked out and I was about to walk by some people that, obviously, I knew but hadn't talked to much in high school. I was on the verge of walking by and I thought, "What the hell are you doing? You're here to hear all the stories. Live the purpose for cripes sake." So, I made a last minute veer that I hope wasn't too terribly obvious and stopped to talk to them. The woman was in my class and the man was in the class above me. They've been married for a while, I don't know how long. They have 2 daughters and 2 dogs. We talked about the dogs for a long time. (One pure lab and one lab/pit. The lab is a high energy hunter and the put is a committed couch potato. They had a dog who they had to let go a while ago who was 15 years old, they baby they had before they had babies.) When I got worried that my arms were burning they let me use their sunscreen. I sprayed my arms and the small bit of my legs that was visible and my feet. See below for the proof that I failed to take my V-neck shirt into account. See what a lovely silhoutte the necklace that Queen Bee loaned me had? It comes in gold and silver, just let me know if you'd like to purchase one and I'll put you in touch with QB. Anyway, I also commented on one of the daughters. She was wearing a very cool safari sort of hat pulled low on her head. It was pink and brown and it was close patterns of butterflies with something sparkly on it. I complimented it to her dad and he was sort of noncommittal. That night, later in the evening I ran into the dad again and in the course of the conversation he said, "Well, you saw her, she has alopecia, she has no hair." I was honest, I totally hadn't noticed, she looked like a kid with an awesome hat to me. I think he thought I was hinting around for an explanation and by later in the day he'd figured out that wasn't the case.

Chili sent me to the reunion with an assignment. Won't go herself but she sent me with a job. I've been giving her shit about this for years. This is the sort of thing that a sister never gets to live down, just so we're all clear. Maybe at the 30 year mark I can use it to convince her to come and do her own dirty work. A member of our class is a chef and he has recently started teaching at the same college where Chili teaches. She wanted to be sure it was the same guy. I hadn't moved much out of our own little circle yet but I could see the guy and was working up the courage to step in. Like angels on the wing Janet and Suzanne appeared at my elbows. We stood on a small rise and surveyed the lay of the land. It was very Tombstone in my head. We agreed that we hadn't somehow made it over to that side of the area at all and we should give it a try. I pointed out the chef and they agreed we should start there, so off we went.

That dude is, for real, the hardest working guy in our whole class, bar none, I'm almost certain. He runs his family's restaurant, he teaches at the college, he's working on an online degree for which there have been a number of setbacks and he's got 4 boys (19, 9 and 6-year-old twins) three of whom were with him that afternoon. We had an interesting conversation about how he finds the teaching and how the culinary portion of the college treats students. I hope Chili is able to take the time and meet this guy at the college because what he had to say could be really helpful as she struggles with painfully low student motivation and painfully lacking student skills. There was another guy standing with him, one of our class officers, and he told a wonderful story about the two of them going on a boat trip with the chef's dad when they were in 8th grade. Apparently they were all the way out by the Isles of Shoals and the gas gauge was stuck. The engine sputtered and died and that's how they figured out that the gauge was broken, the dad called them in to the coast guard for refueling assistance and there they sat. All of a sudden they felt a spray all over them and turned to see a pilot whale break the surface just inches away from their boat. Still a vivid memory for both of them. Which isn't really surprising.

There were a lot of young babies there, first children for their parents who were in the just crawling to walking stages. Anecdotal evidence only, I suppose, but a testimony to the theory that my generation is waiting a while to procreate.

Janet's son is a freaking joy to behold. Good lord he jurt my heart he was such a delight. I wanted to shellack him and put him in my pocket and keep him forever. He's five and he was doing his best to be very shy. As his mother and I talked with another class member about some relatively serious subjects he leaned against her knees and turned from attention sent his way. That is, until I threatened to tickle him. Then he turned full face to me. For a threat I got rewarded with a hard-repressed chuckle and then if I actually tickled him he let go with a belly laugh that just rang in your ears like the sound that joy in your heart is supposed to make. It was addictive. I tickled him a lot. Eventually, though, he was distracted by the lawn games that Suzanne's kids were playing and he wandered off. A while later I was heading out and I felt a tug on the back of my capris. I turned and the little boy shot me the sun shaming grin and said, "Tickle me, please?" Well hell people hardly ever ask for that, who am I to refuse? So I spent some more time making a friend before I headed out.

I spoke to another person who I knew peripherally in high school. She had just moved back to the area when we met at the 10th reunion. Now she's working in the NH prison system as a family services liaison. She kindly talked to me about performance opportunities and was candid about the fact that it's about who you know usually but also very willing to help me get to know some people who do that sort of thing. That's indicative of how interested and kind and helpful people were the whole day. Whether we all follow through on the conversations is still to be proven but the overall vibe was about making connections, however fleeting.

The guy who told the whale story is about 6 weeks shy of his first anniversary with a woman who grew up just a few miles away from Aunt Rena. We all had a good laugh over the state of the town nearby that's only wide enough for a strip club. I said that I always picture the strippers as being about 80 with boobs down to their knees. Whale Guy said that was about right...or so he'd heard.

The actuary had brought his 3-year-old but not his wife or his 6-year-old. The little one is as blond as blond can be and very independent. Dad lost her for a couple of moments because she was perfectly happy to go off and introduce herself to new people.

I had a lovely talk with a guy that I'd had some classes with. His eyes were always this piercing blue, made twice as riveting by his tanned skin and brown eyes. They are exactly the same now. It's distracting to talk to him because you can't look away from those eyes. We talked a bit about his son's baseball team who did very well in the playoffs and his own baseball team made up of guys who played in college. I also found out that, despite working in computers and networking for a hospital, he majored in art in college. I had no idea, no inkling that would have been his choice. Though he doesn't use the degree too much now he makes a habit of doing pen and ink drawings of friends' houses or of the church when he goes to a wedding and giving those as gifts. He hasn't done his own house or church yet but I think he'd like to.

Those are the highlights of the day time event. I'll stop there for today. MKAEP asked me to get some full body shots of the "new me" over the weekend and I have to say that I mostly fell down on the job. I made some deals with Suzanne and Janet to get shots e-mailed to me, and I will share those when they come in. There were also disposable cameras at the evening gathering and those are supposed to be uploaded to the event site so I can put out a link to those, too. I was so busy talking and didn't want to interrupt the flow by pulling out the camera so I mostly left the picture taking to people with partners who could click the shutter. Luckily they're willing to share the bounty. So, on Sunday when I visited the Chili house I asked Mr. C to take a full body shot of me and Chili so I'd at least have something to share right off the bat (see above).


  1. Anonymous10:33 PM

    You look GREAT in the shot at the top, and I LOVE the sun burn shot at the bottom!!!

  2. I really am a bitch, aren't I? Okay; here goes. I hereby promise that I will, baring any unforeseen, concurrent disasters, attend our 30th reunion. I will go to all the parties and I will talk to people and I will bring my yearbook so I have half a freaking clue who most of those people are.

    I really do feel bad for leaving you hanging out there. Please forgive me....

  3. YOU LOOK EFFING AMAZING!!! LOOK AT THAT WAIST! Halakaleem!!! I'm SO GLAD you went, and talked and enjoyed the people. How awesome of you to jump right into conversations that were scary. Proud proud proud. and DAMN you look awesome!!!

  4. First, it was really great to see you at the day event, and thanks for crashing at Margaritas!

    Second, congratulations on making your goal weight! I thought you looked great when I saw you, and I bet it feels nice to hear so many people compliment you. Bien fait!