This is my favorite moment from 2013:
It's from my trip back to Virginia for my 20 year high school reunion this past summer. The day after the reunion, I met up with a couple of my friends at an old park in the neighborhood we had grown up in. Most of the playground equipment that we remembered had long since been taken out and replaced, which was sad. Except for this sweet old metal whale! And you all know how much I love whales anyhow. So I told my friend I wanted a picture of me sitting on the whale. Well, I sat down on it and the springs on the poor old whale were so old and loose that as I sat on it's tail, I immediately swung so far back that I almost hit the ground, which of course came as a bit of a surprise, so I started laughing uncontrollably as I swung back up and leaned forward to keep myself upright! And this is the shot she got of me on the whale. People have told me that they like this picture of me, how nice it is to see me genuinely happy and smiling and laughing. And I agree with them. It isn't often that I get pictures of myself laughing. And I don't often like the way I look anymore smiling too hard, honestly. My face gets all scrunched up and I have a double chin and my eyes are squished and it's really not my best look, take my word for it. But this, I like this picture. And I liked remembering happy times of my childhood with good friends. Lots of good times at that playground. So many memories. So this is a good moment.:)
Honestly, the trip to Virginia was kind of a hard one for me.
(I'm just going to leave these photos interspersed out of order throughout the post because it's too much of a pain to try to put them in order, so just enjoy them for their randomness. Maybe they'll make some sort of sense to you. I'll put captions at the bottom. There.:))
The whole idea of going to the 20 year reunion was a hard one. Not knowing who would be there. If people would recognize me. Knowing I have changed - a lot. Had 4 babies. Etcetera. But also knowing that I don't care too much. That I don't care enough to keep me away anyway. But also being very nervous. What have I done in the 20 years since High School? I went on a church mission to Germany, I got married, I graduated from college, had a baby the month after and I've been a stay at home mom every since. That has been my choice and I'm happy with it, but it is hard sometimes to tell other people that who may have "expected" that I do other bigger and better things. I was afraid of listening to a night of "oh I always thought you would do ____" whatever that might be....
And then being overcome with memories of high school. It's just the name of the game, right? And oh, my. It's just kind of overwhelming. Sometimes. It can be that way for me.
And I don't go back to Virginia often. I was born there and lived there my entire life until I got after my mission when we moved after I got home. So the place itself is very strong with memories, for me. Especially this time, with the reunion. It just felt saturated. Dripping with memories everywhere I turned. I was kind of a mess. And I was very nervous about traveling with the pain, too. The flight. And I had never ever gone on a trip all alone before. I know that seems silly, being an adult and everything, but my anxiety was just very high and my pain was very high. I had a bad migraine every single day of the trip. That alone makes me a little crazy. I stayed with my sister and her husband, who I appreciated very much. They worked full-time so I was left to do whatever I planned to do, which was perfect. But I didn't have as much of a plan as I had planned to have, which was stressful for me. I would very much like to be a person that can be spontaneous and can go with the flow and just do whatever comes my way and whatever but I learned that what this does is increases my stress a hundred fold and then I become sort of paralyzed with indecision, and then I make bad decisions. Or I drive around aimlessly and get lost, or end up places I don't really intend on ending up. Or going the wrong way down one way streets. Or all of the above. It's not really good for me. I get emotional.
Some things worked out really well. I did see some friends that I hadn't seen in many many years and I loved catching up with them and it was wonderful. Some things didn't work out as well. Some plans fell through. I got lost, a lot. Every day I got lost. My GPS on my phone kept dropping out, leaving me driving along with no more directions and pulling into random parking lots trying to get it to reconnect and turning around multiple, multiple times, every time I tried to go anywhere. Northern Virginia is a zoo with traffic anyway, but everywhere I went had changed unrecognizably. Even places where I knew I should know where I was, I no longer had any clue where I was. I got lost late at night coming back from the reunion in my own neighborhood, the one I lived in for over 20 years. I was turned around, completely disoriented and about in tears (in my defense, there are no streetlights in the neighborhood so it was pitch dark and I just have a terrible sense of direction - plus, all the trees had grown so much taller!). In fact, I think just about every single day I was there I ended up in tears for one reason or another. I couldn't find my best friend's house in Fredericksburg (she no longer lives there). I drove around where I knew it should be, just to look at it, because I had time to kill, and never even came close. No idea where I was.
It was so overwhelming and disorienting to be "home" but to feel so lost. I just felt lost. Virginia will always always be home for me. But I felt like in some ways, I was saying goodbye on this trip. There won't be another high school reunion for however many years. I tried to soak in as much as I could, though I know it will never be enough. I didn't belong anymore. I don't belong anywhere. I've become homeless.
The reunion itself was good, I was so glad that I had gone, although for some reason I managed not to eat a single bite the entire night. So many of the people there were people I had known since kindergarten. They weren't really my "crowd" during high school. But they felt almost like family to me, I have just known them for so long. I don't know if they feel the same way about me. They probably don't. But oh well. I was happy to see them, at any rate. I was the one who became the "alternative girl" into middle school and high school and stopped hanging out with the cool kids. They just thought I was weird. So the reunion was mostly the more popular kids. I was ok with that. I don't really care. Most of them didn't remember me unless I had already been friends with them before High School. Hahahaha.;) Oh and if I'm going to classify cliques, some of the really smart kids were there too . I knew them too, happily. So I had some people to talk to. But I stood the whole time not really knowing who to stand next to, becoming increasingly uncomfortable in the heels I wore that I hardly ever wear. Ha. The music was loud, people danced, I laughed and talked to people and caught up and tried not to cry and tried to decide how honest to be about my life and pain issues. But it was good.
There were sooooooo many people that I wish had been there that weren't though. Many many many. It made me miss them.
(I did also get to be there for my sister's baby shower for her first baby which was just so much fun!! I do hope to be able to get out to visit her and her new little family more often. I wish, I wish....)
Oh. And I just discovered that I have lost my photos from this trip. All of them except for what I posted in the reunion group on FB and what I posted personally on FB and on Instagram. I'm a little heartbroken about it - there were a lot of just little things, places and buildings (like the house I grew up in and the church I attended) that I took pictures of that are lost and that I don't know when I will get back to go see again. They may not even be there when I get back there again. I get attached to places. I seem to hang little pieces of myself in the places I've been and when I go back, I see myself there and say hello again. It's important to me, part of who I am.
Anyway, so I guess I ache for what I've lost, as we all sometimes do.
Childhood, places as I knew them, memories, friendships and relationships as they once were, photos, home...
It was an interesting and sort of hard trip to take. But I'm still really glad I did. We can never really go back to anything. We know this. Some people have no desire to go back and see the places where they used to be. They don't want to be reminded of painful pasts, or memories they've put behind them, and high school is just so done, right?
But I guess I'm never one to shy away from nostalgia even though sometimes it hurts. I need to be reminded that the good parts of who I was are still part of who I am. I'm still that girl too. And I still have a home in Virginia, even when I feel lost and homeless.
- me on the whale
- me and Megan who I've known since kindergarten under our Class of 93 sign
- my Senior class photo
- beautiful green VA trees
- old map of Northern VA in the Fairfax County museum I ended up in one day
- me looking through old nostalgic photos before my trip
- my high school memorabilia
- flying out of Reagan National Airport over DC - saying goodbye
- Virginia postcard
- Megan, Anne and Me ( I met Anne in middle school but she lived in our neighborhood & knew Megan in neighborhood preschool)
- me in front of our High School, the night of our reunion before going over
- Scott, Ben and Erik that I've known since kindergarten or at least 1st grade
- view from airplane
- me and Shelly who was my best friend in 6th and 7th grade, then she moved away but we stayed in touch
- Amy, Megan and me (we've known each other since kindergarten)
- view of Rappahanock River, Fredericksburg, VA - one of my favorite places
- Kindergarten class picture (pictured, me, Megan, Amy & Scott - from above pictures - can you find us? Erik and Ben were in the other kindergarten class)
- Senior Class memorabilia table - including the literary magazines that I was a huge part of
- Anne, Carolyn and me (Carolyn lives near me! but this was the first time we'd seen each other - across the country - haha)
- My very pregnant little sister Melissa at her baby shower
- Erin, Christina, Amy and me - we had a separate little reunion get together