Have you ever been to your high school reunion? My partner tells me she goes all the time, but she does it on the computer thanks to facebook. I’ll agree with that, but I’m talking face-to-face. In-person. The kind where you shake hands and pat each other on the back and say things like “good to see you,” and “we’ll have to keep in touch.”
I recently crossed paths with some familiar souls who knew me in another life. There were nearly a dozen of us who’d all received a primary education at the same institution of lower learning. We’d all shared a meal or two at the Front Street Junction. We’d all crossed the Red River at one time or another to shop at a place known only as “Foreman,” even though it was dozens of miles from the actual town of Foreman, Arkansas. And we’d all stood up and pointed our finger in the sky while singing the same school song.
It was a birthday party for a friend. The setting: A little roadhouse along I-35 that featured a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band. This group of hometowners is certainly dynamic. Some of them drove 3 hours to be there, and the guest of honor isn’t even a blood-relative! At one point during the festivities, I was sitting away from the group on a stool and observing the surroundings. The guest of honor came up to me and thanked me for coming. He was truly amazed at everyone making the trip. I reached my hands out toward the crowd and motioned to him “They all came for you and you’re not even dead!” He got a kick out of that, especially since his chosen career is ‘funeral director.’
We spent the evening listening to the live band with a lead guitarist that dressed up just like SRV. We listened to the jukebox when the band was on break. We played pool. We took a lot of pictures and talked of old times. The big tall fella with the longhorns shirt was known for his trivial talents. He could tell with certain accuracy- what kind of vehicle any kid in De Kalb drove when he was in school, while I could tell you what year anybody in De Kalb graduated from high school.
Some of the people in this crew from Saturday have children, including me. Like most of the group, I left the hometown years ago. My children were born far away from Bowie County. They don’t know the place I knew. I have to wonder about their ties to home. Not their house, but their town. Their community. Their place. How to people like military brats do it? Anytime I meet someone who moved around a lot as a kid, I’m in awe because of the adventures they must have experienced. I’m also in wonder at the adventures they may have missed.
Among the birthday party group, there’s probably one kiddo who will know some of that ol’
De Kalb magic. A young man named Peyton may find it. But kids like Hattie, Sadie, Cooper, Ellerby, Riley, Princess, and Robb… they’ll only know it if they spend enough time at their grandparents.
Maybe they’ll all develop that bond their parents have.