Tag Archives: Reunion

Day 312: hey y’all :: in the spirit of paula deen

8 Nov

We made it to Savannah, Georgia today, where I met Paula Deen.

She is shorter than I expected.
Well, actually, it was a cardboard cut out of Paula Deen (but seemingly just as animated!).

I had no idea there was an actual Paula Deen STORE.  You could not only buy Paula Deen cookbooks but also Paula Deen playing cards and Paula Deen candles at the retail store attached to The Lady and Sons.

I didn’t buy anything.
But we did stroll along E. Bay Street and the quaint shops until we found a little riverfront restaurant for lunch.  As we walked up the steps and Justin pulled open door, a man appeared from around the corner and informed us that the restaurant was closed.  Not “closed” for lunch and would reopen for dinner, but, rather closed for another six weeks.

Alrighty then.
Moving on.

The restaurant next door seemed to fit the bill so we decided to check out the menu. It seemed agreeable enough but when the waitress asked us if we wanted to sit inside or outside, we waffled.

This decision is typically easy for us, an equation of sorts.  If it dips below 80 degrees I prefer to be indoors.  But today was a nice day outside, and I had a jacket on, and it was waterfront dining.

I looked at Justin and said, “What do you think… Outside?”  knowing that he would prefer to be outdoors.

But Justin knew it was most likely below 80 degrees, therefore a frozen arctic zone that I could not handle.  So he politely prompted the waitress, “I think inside will be fine.” (I took it as a pure sign of love for me.)

Once seated I ordered a hot water, my usual these days.  The waitress raised one eyebrow and repeated my order, but added the words “JUST” in front of it, as in, you can’t JUST want a hot water and nothing else in it, can you?

I nodded both acknowledging my order and my craziness.

The hot water arrived and I held the warm cup in my hands just as my ears tuned into a voice standing behind me.  It was a man’s voice.  A man’s voice that I recognized.

I turned and saw, of all things, my friend’s father.  From Connecticut.  Standing right behind me, INSIDE the restaurant.  In Georgia.

I stood up and said his name letting the last syllable go up making it a question.  As in, is that really you, all the way from Connecticut standing behind me right here in Georgia?

His eyes blinked like he didn’t recognize me.  I became aware of the glasses sitting on my nose, he must not be able to recognize that it is me.  Just then he let out a large smile and exclaimed, “Jamie?!”

“Yes!” I smiled back.
And, right there inside the restaurant that was not our first choice, that was located next to the one that was closed, down the street from Paula Deen’s restaurant, off the highway that we drove from Massachusetts, I found friends.

But, that’s not the ironic part of this story.
The sweet irony is that this is a story of divorce, loss and separation. Because, when relationships end, sometimes, (well most times I suppose) the side effects reach far beyond the couple in question.

So, was my relationship with these people, who found themselves on the other side of a mutual friend’s divorce.  I haven’t seen them in years, and I suppose as we all stayed “out of it” we eventually became out of touch.

Not today.
It was as if all the stars aligned.  They were in Savannah for just one day.  We were there for just one lunch.  They chose to walk into a restaurant to ask for directions.  We chose to eat there only because our first choice of eateries was closed.

It seemed as if one door closed and indeed another opened.

As if Paula Deen herself was right there, tapping me on my shoulder, having me turn my head just in time to reach out and say, “Hey Y’All!”

And, that’s a recipe for a reunion that’s good for my soul.

Day 134: a re-union of sorts

14 May


Today was my college reunion. Number 15.  The 1-5.
It’s hard believe 15 years have passed since the day Anna Quindlen took the stage to address the graduating class of 1996.

Then again, it feels like almost 50 years have passed in my life since that moment in time when I was a bright eyed, young, exuberant, hopeful, naive, and excited college student.

I thought I knew it all then. 
And, I have pretty much proved that 21-year old girl wrong, despite all my best efforts.  There are so many twists and turns I could not have predicted. Death, divorce, layoffs, love, loss, and second chances.

Today I rented a car, hopped on the Mass Pike and ventured out to Northampton to reunite with my fellow classmates.

Upon first entering the Grecourt Gates I felt a strange sense of change.
Like a smell in the air.  It was the same, but different.

I parked my car across campus at the new parking garage (we didn’t have a parking garage when I was there ~ we also didn’t have cell phones, dvds, navigation systems, flat screen TV, or Wi-Fi for that matter ).

I walked my old familiar path through campus.  From the gym, past the pond, up the hill, across Elm Street and ended at Lamont House.  Class headquarters.

With excitement in my step I walked up to the registration table to check-in.  The dear student behind the desk seemed a little flustered and couldn’t find my name on the list.  Doesn’t matter I smiled at her.  I registered on the last day, I’m sure it’s on there.

A class agent jumped in to help and promptly announced that I must not be on the list, I registered too late.  She grabbed a pen and a name tag and handed them to me: “Here.  Fill out your own name tag.”

Just as the student reached over to hand me my goodie bag, the class agent jumped in and shrieked “She doesn’t get a bag.  She’s not on the list.  We only  have 85, I can’t give you one.”

“It’s okay.”  I smiled back.  “Really, I registered online on the last day, so I probably just didn’t make the list.”

Without bag or goodies in hand I left the hall to head out to my old house in search of my old room.  As I approached the quaint little Victorian I was greeted with a locked door.  Locked out.  Okay, so no photos of the old room.  Moving on.

I walked to the new student center (built post circa 1996) to grab my boxed lunch and check out the campus center.  As soon as it was my turn, after waiting in line, the staff announced they were all out of vegetarian lunches.

“Darn.” I thought.  I had specifically registered for a vegetarian meal so I could stay on my cleanse (the. final. week. of. this. detox.)

No problem, I told myself.  I grabbed the regular lunch and pulled out the apple and carrots. This will do.

On with the day.
And, on to other surprises:
Class meeting.  Moved to dinner.
Wellness sessions. Moved to a different building.
I went back and checked my old house again.  Still locked.

It had been three hours. And here I stood, in the middle of campus.  No lunch.  No visit to the old room.  No class meeting.  No goodie bag.

I began to ponder the situation.  Maybe this was a sign, to leave.  I had another hour before the next event (which for all I know was to be canceled or moved or displaced or re-purposed)

I stood on the step of the empty building and a sign caught my eye.
Chapin Botanical Garden.

That’s interesting.
I didn’t know there was another botanical garden on campus…

So, just before I gave up and was about to leave, I found the most beautiful, sweet and amazing spot on campus. A fountain, a waterfall, a sea of tulips, a meditation circle, a rose trellis and a pathway with benches.

I snapped a bunch of photos and sat on a bench soaking in the beauty of this very moment.

And, it was right then, that I found it.
I expected to enter campus and reunite with friends, I expected to see familiar faces and classmates, I expected to tour my old room, my old house, my old stomping grounds.

Instead I found myself reuniting with another woman.
The girl inside me.

On a bench, in a sea of tulips and boxwood shrubs, I sat with the girl who at one time called this campus home.

The girl who picked herself up by her bootstraps and moved from the west coast to the east coast to go to college, the one who was not phased and completely unfettered by thought of launching into the real world and knew she was going to change it.

It’s a thing of hope sitting on a college campus.  The air smells of opportunity and dreams.  And it was there on that bench that I had my reunion.

So what if I didn’t get a goodie bag, or room tour, or vegetarian lunch.
I got a much greater gift.

A reunion with what matters most, the core of it all, and the reason I first entered the Grecourt Gates.  To live a life of purpose and passion.

And it was in thinking of this girl, that I reconnected with my heart and remembered: opportunity awaits.

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