Trevor and I headed back east on Thursday. We flew into NYC's JFK airport. Trevor and our friend Doug were going to work a triathlon in Westchester NY, about 2 and a half hours from South Jersey where my reunion was. The two of them drove north to New York and I drove south to Philadelphia. The plan was that Trevor would drive down for my reunion on Saturday night and then drive back up to continue working. I had the weekend pretty much to myself - a very rare occurrence.
I really wanted to run the Kelly Drive Loop by the Philly Art Museum, that was one reason I stayed in Philadelphia instead of 15 miles east in Washington Township where I went to high school. Also, my friend Karen and her husband Scott were staying downtown on Saturday and I wanted to be close to them.
I arrived at my hotel on Thursday evening. Got settled and went to dinner by myself. It was a nice change from the hectic pace we've been keeping lately. I went to bed at a reasonable time. It was the first time that I can remember getting into bed without Trevor, our cats and dogs and not being TOTALLY exhausted from one thing or another. It was great.
Friday morning, I got up and went for that run I had been wanting to do! Along Kelly Drive, there are boat houses where all the college rowing teams keep their boats. The Drexel University Womens' Rowing Team was headed out for their training run and I ran along with them for a bit. I went about 8 miles total.
I have traveled across country many times and always when I am driving home, I'll be coming into Philly and I will see the Art Museum. It always signals that I am almost home. During my run, I saw it on my way back and I had the same feeling I had every summer coming back from college...I am almost home.
After my run, I got cleaned up and headed to meet my friend Amy for lunch. In high school, especially my senior year, Amy was my best friend. We did everything together. We had classes together and hung out on the weekends. We carpooled to the senior prom and spent prom weekend at a beach house in Ocean City Maryland. I spent graduation night at her house - talking about the future. We were always talking about the future.
Amy went to college in Boston, I went to Colorado and because we were lazy, we lost touch. Back then, there was no facebook or email and so you had to put effort into keeping up with each other. And we didn't. I have always wished that was different. I moved back to NJ in 1999 for about 8 months and I believe we talked on the phone or via email. But we never saw each other.
Over the last couple years we've reconnected on facebook and we share so many of the same interests. Our lives are similar in many ways and I feel like we still know each other like the back of our hands. So when Amy walked into the restaurant, it was like no time had passed.
We sat and had lunch and caught up on all the happenings of our lives - talked about husbands and families, triathlons and jobs. Her voice, her mannerisms...all the same as 20 years ago and for a minute, I felt like we were 18 again. We said our goodbyes. I went back to the hotel and did some work and some laundry. Amy texted me later in the day and asked if I wanted to meet her and her sister for drinks. So my day with Amy continued....
I met Amy, her sister and a couple friends for drinks at the Four Seasons. It was a lot of fun and I wished that we could do it every Friday!!! I headed back to the hotel and had some dinner...feeling really good about how this reunion weekend was starting.
Saturday morning I got up and headed into NJ. I was going to meet Tina Petrilli for coffee. I went to school with Tina from first grade on. She lived around the corner from me in Heritage Valley. It was her, Christine Morabito, Chris Convery, Matt Streb, Heather Lipson, Missy Donaldson and me. Over the years we added Mike Powers and Pete Drolet. Those are the people whom I remember always being together.
I wasn't close with Tina in high school but for some reason we have really connected over the past few years. Again because of facebook. She reads my blog and I had posted something once about coffee and she messaged me that if I was ever back in NJ she would take me to her favorite coffee place. I was not going to miss that opportunity so when I knew I was coming, I asked if she wanted to meet.
I walked into the Crescent Moon Coffee House and we were in first grade all over again. Tina looks the same, only grown up. She had her daughters with her - one was in first grade - the age we were when we met. It was a totally surreal experience. After we sat for a bit, we had a surprise guest - Kelly Kuterbach came in with her twins in tow...one under each arm.
Kelly and I were not friends in high school. We have only connected through facebook and I have to say that not being friends with her longer is something I wish was different. I seriously love this chick. We talk on facebook ALL the time - she is super cool, smart, funny and totally awesome. I was SO happy to see her. I don't remember any conversation ever with her in high school and yet she was at the top of my life of people to see while home.
She, Tina and I sat and talked for at least an hour. We laughed, shared stories and predicitons for the reunion. We talked about who we were and who we are. It was so comfortable. I really enjoyed it.
We went our separate ways to get ready for the evenings festivities!!! I headed back into town to meet up with Karen. Kelly wasn't going to be too far behind me - she was meeting up with Karen too.
I parked me car and walked a couple blocks to the Ritz Carlton, where Karen and Scott were staying. I walked in and there they were - sitting in the most beautiful lobby eating little soft pretzel sticks like only the Ritz Carlton would do. I gave Karen the biggest hug of my life. I have known her since first grade and only in the last five years have we connected. But we have connected big time.
We chatted for a bit, then Karen headed off to get her hair done and I saw with Scott for a bit. We had a great talk. What a nice guy. What could have been a half hour of small talk, killing time while waiting for me to eat my burgers, was instead, a half our of meaningful conversation. It was great. I could see why Karen loved him.
I headed up to the Spa at the Ritz and used the sauna and steam room as Karen's guest. Kelly was there to get a massage and popped her head in to say hello! After I had sweated out all the toxins from my burger, I headed back to my hotel.
Trevor drove down from NY and arrived around 5. We cleaned up and headed to the reunion. I was so excited to see these people!
I felt like I knew everything about my classmates. I knew them 20 years ago and I know them now - mostly because of facebook. It was going to make the evening so much easier because there wouldn't be so much catching up to do!
I could go on and on about all the people I talked to, all the ones I caught up with. Instead I will just say that I had the time of my life. These are my people and this is my place. There have been other people and other places, but it all started here, with them. Something about that is so comforting. I think that is what being "home" is all about. I have never felt more at ease and comfortable with who I am. And I loved that.
I wish I would have taken 100 more pictures. Here are the ones I did take...
Alaina Chip - I admire her more than just about anyone ever. She is an amazing mom who has gone to the ends of the earth to raise a healthy happy child against all odds. Plus she's beautiful.
My dear friend Pete. I rode the bus to kindergarten with him. I spent just about every year of my school life with him. We laughed....alot...through the years. All my memories of him are good ones. Well, just about all of them!
The night ended for me around 11 pm, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I got a ride back to my hotel in the city with Karen and Scott. I went to bed and had trouble sleeping because I was replaying the night in my mind. At 2 am, I got a call from our petsitter that Romeo was acting weird and ended up on the phone with her all night while she took him to the ER (He's fine).
After about an hour of sleep, I got up and headed to meet Meg for coffee. We had planned a picnic to extend the weekend, but I wanted some time alone with Meg first. Every time I come home, I spend time with Meg and its always like no time has passed. Its been about five years since we last saw each other in person, but you would never have known it.
At 11, we headed to the park. I was expecting there to be lots of people, but it was just me, Meg, Jenn Sieminiski and Tina. Which was fine because I didn't get to talk to Jenn much at the reunion. Then there is Tina. She is one of the people I talk to the most but didn't spend even a minute with her since I've been home. This was a great chance to catch up with them.
Jenn had her kids and after a bit went on her way. Meg, Tina and I decided to take some pictures and then hit the road. I had one stop to make and then a long drive up to NY to see Trevor. Our picture session turned into a stump jumping competition and about an hour of laughing and acting stupid. Just the way I like it!
Just as we were leaving, Chris Convery and his family arrived. I didn't get a picture, but we talked for a while. He's another one that I LOVE. It was so great to see him and his wife and catch up some more.
We said our goodbyes, I hit the road, stopped and saw my friend Lorraine and then made the long drive north to meet up with Trevor. Finally, it was time to head back west. It was the oddest feeling - leaving home to head for home.
I feel so fortunate to have grown up with such an amazing group of people. All of them. I certainly don't want to wait another 20 years to see them all again.