Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Blessings of an Old Friend (c. 1995)

About a year ago I got this brilliant idea to have a marching band members reunion. Our graduating class did not have a ten year reunion....not that I would have gone anyway... but I got to wondering about my friends from band. I ran the idea past Alison, the only friend I've stayed in touch with, and she seemed to think it might be fun. But she lives in Florida so I was on my own.
(Senior Night-1994)

It took me about eight months to actually get up the nerve to start randomly tracking people down. I started on Facebook, where it was relatively easy to just ask someone to be "my friend". Those contacts were fun and everyone seemed genuinely interested in a get-together of some kind. In February I started seriously trying to find all the members of the band from the year I graduated.

I googled a few names and found some email addresses. Then came the hard part. Writing the letter. Every draft sounded so....cheesy. Finally I just gave up and hit send.

I've located more than half of our class, plus several from the year before and the one after. As I began to reconnect with these friends, I was thrilled with their successes and their families. I was also saddened by their struggles and difficulties. I think somehow in my eternal optimism, I forgot that life would be happening for them too. Of course, I also imagine that everyone still looks exactly like they did on graduation day...and we all know that ain't true!

One friend, it turns out, lives about 5 miles up the road. When I realized he lives so close and yet I haven't seen him for 13 years, I suggested to Michael that we invite him over for dinner. Michael quickly agreed and I sent the email invitation. We found an evening that worked and Gene came over this past Tuesday.

Now I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous. I can be irrational at times and I worried about every detail. I worried about the menu. I worried about making conversation. I worried about whether or not my kids would behave. I worried that Michael would ask what I was like in high school. I worried that Gene would tell him. I worried about it all. I wanted so much for the evening to be a fun night of catching up, reminiscing, and good food.

Brenna met Gene at his car when he pulled in. Michael welcomed him into the house and I scrambled from the heat of the kitchen to say hello. The guy who walked into our dining room barely resembled the eighteen year old friend who, along with a few others, stood in my driveway talking till nearly midnight on the night before I left for college. I think I thought he'd either look just like I remembered or be fat and bald.

He was neither.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next. After introductions, he handed me a bottle of wine he'd brought as a gift. No one has ever brought us a bottle of wine. We don't actually have wine glasses or even a cork screw. I nearly burst into a fit of nervous giggles.

But then I had to think what to do...was it rude to set it on the counter? Should I try to figure out how to get it open and serve it with dinner? In the mason jar glasses I'd set out? How totally unclassy! My face burned up in at least fifteen shades of red as I panicked inwardly. I doubt my makeup hid a thing.

When I'd gathered my wits, I graciously thanked him, set the bottle on the counter and filled our glasses with sweet tea. But still I worried. I did not want to appear rude. But really, how was I going to get it open?

Conversation flowed well through dinner. Brenna was very well behaved and Daniel used his spoon....mostly....and also his hands. The rest of the evening was fun. We looked at pictures, caught up on other friends, and had a fun time. When he left, we sent him home with chicken leftovers, extra cake and a picture Brenna had drawn.

First thing Wednesday morning, I called my friend Molly. In my mind, she seemed the best person to ask since she reads Southern Lady magazine and her Dad once ran for Senate. I needed someone who could answer my social question!

Molly called me back laughing. She says she's no Miss Manners, but she assures me that it was ok not to open the wine. I feared I had committed a huge faux pas. Thankfully, I didn't. Maybe it's time we bought a set of glasses and a corkscrew. Every time I see the bottle sitting on the counter, though, I'm reminded of the gracious and thoughtful spirit with which it was given.

Old friends. Good wine. Mason jar glasses. Black Cherry Forest Cake. A Wii. And laughter.

Here's to old friends and new memories....

(Baccalaureate - 1995)

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