This was a month of reunions.
Two to be exact. But significant, nonetheless.
One was anticipated with great joy and the other, well, a surprise.
My friend Beth wrote about her great Iowa reunion tour. We shared two years of the Iowa chapter.
Beth and her husband tried to visit Minnesota earlier, but their plans got foiled by pandemic chaos.
Finally the stars aligned. Last month, their flights to MPS went smoothly, no one got sick. Suddenly we were heading to their hotel in Bloomington to meet.
I can hardly believe seven years have passed since we lived in Mason City, IA.
It feels like a decade ago and it also feels like yesterday.
Beth and Chris were our brightest spot during our Mason City years. We found it challenging to adjust to life in a smaller, rural community and related to people who also moved from bigger cities. Beth was also one of the first people I met.
She has a gift for making you feel comfortable, like you’ve been old friends right away. We’ve stayed in contact ever since we both moved away. The best types of friendships are the ones that you can pick up where you last left off no matter how much time has passed.
Even though we would have loved to show them around the cities, they were gracious enough to let us hang out with them at the hotel where Addie could run wild.
The employees at the Marriott Airport Hotel bar were extraordinarily kind to Addie. I asked if they had a piece of bread we could feed her before dinner, and they presented a big plate of toasted bread.
I love hotel bars. The more mundane and hidden the better. Probably overpriced, but always memorable. Our server entertained us with tales of the wild weekend they had hosting a conference of USPS employees. Sounds like they know how to party!
Our two years in Mason City were home to some really good and really bad memories.
The really bad including missing city life and being one of the only Asian people around, the death of our friend Amy, the low job salaries, our house trying to carbon monoxide us, getting recruited for MLMs, and the Pyrotechnics Guild Conference week of sonic booms and a puking dog.
But the really good included meeting Beth and Chris, meeting the other North Iowa bloggers who became my friends, the many adventures we had together exploring Iowa and even Chicago and Springfield, IL, the time my boss taught me how to drive on a gravel road, working at the World Wide College of Auctioneering, learning about agriculture and visiting farms, and enjoying an abundance of pork tenderloins, meat lockers, and ice cream.
Looking back, I’m grateful for this time of life and the ways it made us better people.
The other reunion was unexpected.
Nothing makes you feel more insecure than a surprise high school reunion.
I haven’t stayed in touch with many people from high school. There are a couple friends I check in with intermittently and I’ve re-connected with some through social media.
The reason I was hesitant to stay connected was to avoid contact with someone I dated. I’m older now and feeling this dangerous combination of nostalgia, fearlessness, and old-man-yelling-at-the-sky. I know know that I can handle it now.
Our relative had a small wedding reception on a beautiful rooftop patio by the lake. It was the perfect night – a sunset, not too hot with a a slight lake breeze.
This was also an extra special night, not only because of the happy occasion, but because we had a babysitter! I made myself comfortable at a little table and gleefully enjoyed little cheeseburgers from the appetizer buffet in peace.
I glanced across the room and squinted, wondering if I recognized a face from high school. So many years have passed since we graduated that I assumed it could not possibly be them and went on my merry way.
But when I looked up again, I noticed another familiar face. And then another. And another. I blinked a few times and wondered if I was actually hallucinating.
Turns out, the groom does have a high school connection. I hesitantly approached a couple of my old classmates and said hello.
Even though an abundance of years have passed and we’ve lived many lives since high school, I’m amazed how insecure a high school reunion makes me feel.
Back in simpler times, you could pull a Romy and Michele and tell people you invented the Post-It, do a little dance, take-off in Sandy’s helicopter. . .
“I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE/RELIGIOUS BEANIE FELDSTEIN FROM BOOKSMART ANYMORE,” I wanted to shout. Ok maybe I’m a little Josie Grossie still.
Regardless of who we were in high school, we all have something that someone else would like and some things that they don’t.
For now I guess I’m the happy, swollen pregnant lady enjoying mini cheeseburgers while her husband dances away. I might not own my own business or be a director or VP. I haven’t written my book yet or gotten a James Beard. I may be more or less beautiful than people remember. But at the end of the day (or decades), I’m happy with myself as a work in progress and feel lucky that I can kiss my little girl goodnight every evening.
I’ll put it all in my book later.