20 Years Later…

Weeks ago I blogged about whether or not to attend my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  I detailed the specifics and asked readers to weigh in on the issue (via the post SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO?) Thanks to many of you for offering your opinions and encouragement (and even bigger thanks to my folks for getting me a free hotel room), I made the decision to – GO FOR IT!

I spent Thanksgiving Day in Maine with my family, cooking and feasting, and the rest of the weekend traveling to & from Philadelphia for this “once in a lifetime” event.  And as promised, I’m BACK to blog all about it!  WOOT!  I’ll try not to dwell on the drive – which for a normal person would have been grueling but for someone like me (with Meniere’s) was just shy of hellish, and instead focus on the PARTY.  My 20 year high school reunion in a nutshell?  CRAZY FUN.  Truly one of the most unforgettable and surreal experiences of my life (drive included).

Picture yourself traveling back in time… 5 years.. 10 years.. 15, 20… You step into a room filled with former classmates, and…

From the moment I arrived at the reunion, I was transported – not just back to high school, but all the way to childhood.  Greeting me at check-in was a friend I’d known since I was 5, who’d slipped a Van Halen poster into my 6th grade desk to impress me.  There stood friends I’d known for YEARS, people who’d played with me as children, laughed with me as adolescents, and Yes, even dated me as teenagers.  Most of my very best friends were in attendance, all of us reunited under one roof.  And seeing each of their faces, changed after so many years, and yet so fundamentally the same, was worth every bit of the travel agony I had endured.

My 20 year high school reunion was amazing, not just because of the memories it brought back, but because of our collective present.  Teenage insecurity, awkwardness and fear be damned!  Each of us returned to this reunion armed with 20 years of personal growth.  Regardless of career choice, whether married or not, childless or not, rich /poor/ or in between, all of us are now (thankfully) adults.  And at age 38/39, most of us seem to like ourselves.

And you know what?  It shows.  From the get-go I was astounded by just how great everyone looks!  Sure, we’ve all aged, but on the whole we’re far more attractive now than we were in high school.  Why?  Because 20 years later… we’ve grown up.  And not just up; we’ve grown INTO ourselves.  As teens we thought we knew everything, but we spent more time wondering what others were thinking than ever truly thinking.  We worried, we picked, we agonized over minutia.  Time has erased many of those petty concerns, replacing them with understanding and PRIORITIES.  We’ve faced challenges, we’ve made accomplishments and we didn’t need to waste the night trying to prove anything.

Instead we enjoyed each other, and ourselves. We made chit-chat with those we recognized, we delved deep with those we’d truly known, and I for one came away changed. That’s what happens when you reunite.  You can close a chapter on your life with a smile, and without regret. Whether you’ve told someone they were special, or said you were sorry for a past wrong, reunions are an opportunity to explore another side of yourself. A former side, finally at peace with the present.  It was a wonderful night.

Huge thanks to the reunion committee for all their hard work, and to the many people whose photographs I’ve reprinted here — thanks for the memories!

Photos courtesy of Amy Eisman Kaplan, Jill Katz, Shawn Kwon-Chang, and Brian Miller, Chorus Media.
.

Max

My dog Max died two weeks ago.  Although his legs had begun to fail, he was otherwise in good health and spirits, and his passing was wholly unexpected.  We’d taken a long walk the day before and he’d been so full of joy!  Rushing ahead, leading the charge, till finally he was so spent he’d practically collapsed.  He woke us early the next morning, about 3:30 am, crashing around downstairs.  My husband rose to let him out, thinking he had to go to the bathroom.  Max went out into the yard and laid down in the grass.  He wouldn’t get up, even after John called him several times.  His breathing was labored, his tongue hung to one side and his lips felt cold. Something was seriously wrong.

John came and got me, and together we went outside and rolled Max onto a blanket and carried his heavy (150 lb.) frame inside.  We placed him gently on the rug, then fetched blankets and pillows for ourselves.  We laid, side by side, as if on a camping trip.  Petting him, speaking to him, sensing – somehow – that this was the end.  Just shy of 4:30 his breathing became almost imperceptible, punctuated only by a few deep gasps. He didn’t seem to be in any pain. John woke the girls in time for them to say goodbye. And then Max was gone.

His swift departure has left a hole in the heart of my family.  Max lived with us his entire life, from 7 weeks to almost 10 years.  He grew up side by side with our daughters, and neither can remember life without him.

We miss him terribly.  But even in death Max remains a steadfast presence in our lives.  I see him when I walk the woods, I feel him beside me at the beach.  Each morning as I rise, I meet him in the hallway where we parted, and every meal I fail to finish I take out to his yard.  2 weeks ago, Max died, and we buried him under the apple tree.  And next year, when flowers bloom from his grave, I will think of him all the more.

A dear neighbor gave us a book of poems to help us through our loss.  Many are consoling, some difficult to even read, but the one which has touched me the most was written by Rudyard Kipling and is entitled Four-Feet.

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through —
Wherever my road inclined —
Four-feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round, —
Which I shall never find —
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

My 20-year high school reunion is coming up next month, and I’ve yet to RSVP.  In true blog fashion, I’ve decided to put the question to my readers.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

BASICS: The reunion is being held over Thanksgiving weekend in Philadelphia.  About a quarter of my HS class has committed to going, and another quarter said “Maybe.”  I am one of them.  Tickets cost $50 – 70 each.

BACKGROUND: I no longer live in Philly, where the reunion is being held.  I presume Thanksgiving weekend was chosen to accommodate travelers who’d be returning to the area to visit family.  Unfortunately my family lives in Atlanta, and my husband and I had planned on celebrating Thanksgiving here in Maine. 

MY HUSBAND: Is supportive of the trip, but financially it would be a burden.  My parents are tied up for the weekend, so we wouldn’t have anyone to watch our kids (or pets) here in Portland.  The reunion would necessitate a hotel stay for two nights, boarding of our pets, as well as a babysitter for our daughters during the event.  It would also mean purchase of reunion tickets, gasoline, food for four, travel expenses.  In sum: NO SMALL CHUNK OF CHANGE.  Add the fact that it’s Thanksgiving Weekend, guaranteeing the roads will be packed.

BUT: A part of me really wants to go.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone from high school.  I had many close friendships and have reconnected with many friends via Facebook.  The reunion should be fun.  They’re having an open bar & food, music, a video montage and even swag bags.  A lot of people have already bought tickets, likely more will attend.  For the sheer pleasure (and curiosity) of seeing what people look like after 20 YEARS (!) part of me says YES!

MY DILEMMA: Attending the reunion is possible, but it’s a big unnecessary expense.  I also suffer from Meniere’s Disease, a condition often exacerbated by travel and stress.  Portland is 7 1/2 hours by car from Philadelphia; a do-able drive, but in traffic it will be longer.  Bottom line: ???

POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Enjoy Thanksgiving here, then go to the reunion by myself. If I went alone, it would be a much smaller burden, involving less stress and expense – one ticket, one room, food for me, and my husband could stay home and take care of things.  But how much fun would that really be?  How many spouses attend reunions solo?  I’d hazard a guess at very few.  It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable or confident enough to go alone, it’s just.. not ideal. 

SO. SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? I don’t want to ditch my husband for my reunion, but I don’t want to miss it either.  Is it worth the hassle and expense of us going as a family?  Is it better to simply stay home??  Would I have a good time if I went by myself or would I just feel awkward?  Has anyone been in a similar situation?  What do you think?! Give me your 2 cents!

NOTE: My two friends above WILL be at the reunion!

Georgia & The Fly

Last week I was sitting on the couch reading, when my younger daughter began elbowing me.  MOMMY LOOK!  MOMMMY LOOK!  She was pointing to something on the back of the couch.  I leaned in for a better view.  It was a run-of-the-mill housefly, perched on the back of the chair.  And it looked dead.

Georgia, that poor fly is dead, quit poking at it.

She was insistent.  NOOO, MOMMY IT’S ALIVE.  REALLY!! I figured she was just pushing on the little dead fly and wiggling it with her finger. But she wasn’t.  It was alive.  Never before had I witnessed a fly sitting patiently while being petted by a human, but there it was.  On the back of my couch.  Only after she’d picked it up and kept petting it for a while did the thing finally fly off.

georgia&thefly

georgia&thefly2

Georgia & friend

I was in equal parts revolted and amazed.  Here was a creature I’d always regarded as a poop-eating, garbage-dump-thriving vermin displaying what can only be described as (dare I say it?) TRUST towards my 5 yr old.  It’s not like humans and flies are the best of friends.  But that fly was as good as glued to Georgia’s hand.  She could have smashed it licketysplit.  But she didn’t.

Sometimes we are like the fly – willing to take a chance against the odds.  Sometimes we are like the child – seeing a friend in the unlikeliest of creatures.  Whether it was Georgia’s sticky hand — or the sweetness of her soul — that kept the fly there for so long, I’ll never know.  But I’d like to think a little of both.

GIVING THANKS.

hellothere1
I CAN SEEEEEEE YOUUUUU. Really! Now put some clothes on.

YES I KNOW it’s Thanksgiving! I am full too, but I’m not sitting around in my flesh-colored bodysuit. SWEATPANTS PEOPLE!! It’s what they were made for.

I just wanted to take a moment to do something – apart from the whole yogurt tasting – that I’ve been meaning to do for some time. We all know today is meant to be a day to count our blessings. For each of us to stop a moment and say LIFE IS GOOD. Well. Now that I’ve been doing this blog for 14 months, I think it’s about time for me to devote a post to things I am thankful for, like

YOU. You are a friend and/or stranger who somehow stumbled upon this blog. Perhaps you were looking to buy a vacuum. You like Gus the Pennsylvania Lottery Mascot. You shun dog clothes and ass shorts. and dolls named Cloe. You have 18 year old towels. You ride your bike on the sidewalk – or, conversely, want to round up all sidewalk riders and place them in internment camps. You let your dog poop in the woods and enjoy camping. YOU LOVE EASTENDERS!! You enjoy nature. and photography. AND WINE. You live in an old house. You’ve won money GAMBLING! Or, You’re trying to quit smoking. You lost your hamster – and then found it. OR, you’re looking to get rid of DEAD MOUSE SMELL. You’ve done the craziest things EVER for the love of pets. You think the way you drive speaks VOLUMES. You are a crazy cat lady at heart! You LOVE being a momma. AND your friend is giving birth at home. You’re wild about Valentine’s Day. You’re learning to sew. You NEVER get your mail. AND You just found an x-rated animal cracker while watching TV w/ your kids.

HOWEVER YOU GOT HERE. THANK YOU for being a part of The Daily Dish.

This blog is me. and I am it. It’s where I like to be and it looks like all of my dreams.

atthestore

THIS IS LIFE. Round past bedtime at the BEST BUY kind of life. You can tell by my tired eyes and less-than-tame hairdo, I am looking forward to a glass (or three) of wine. My older daughter is still snapping photos and my other daughter is half asleep. My husband is… shall we say.. NOT AMUSED?

THIS IS ME. in all my unglory. And yet you keep coming back to read all about it. A Philadelphian. A woman who feels guilty throwing away perfectly good underwear, who thinks her feet are the most underrated appendages on her body. Someone w/ a freaky ear disease who runs a low sodium recipe website. An unapologetic and unabashed wino, wife and mother, who is grateful above all else for my family, my health, and my sense of humor. Who has found a world of acceptance and friendship simply by opening up through a blog.

For all the amazing people I have met here. Who make my world a happier place, and life all the fuller. For each and every one of you, I give thanks.