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The Cody Blog: Present at the Reunion, or, Alone. By Choice.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Present at the Reunion, or, Alone. By Choice.

Ah, the reunion. We didn't have a ten year for some reason that nobody who came to the event could explain, but whatever. So we had ourselves a 15-year. Class of 1991, Ruidoso High School. I've never gone to a college or high school reunion (hell, I didn't even bother to go to my college graduation as I'd bought a one-way ticket to NYC and caught a plane out a couple hours after my last final at University of New Mexico) so I really have no frame of reference as to what a reunion is supposed to be like, but I'd have a hard time believing anything could top the setting we had for this one.

Elyn, one of the oldest friends I have in the world whom I trade emails with often to this day, so graciously set up the whole event at the soccer fields at White Mountain Elementary School, where we'd gone to third through fifth grade. I'd also played in about a million soccer games on those fields on our way to winning the little kids' state championship back in like fourth grade or something before I'd foolishly made the mistake to focus on only the "big three" sports.

I'd been so nervous to show up at the event, as I didn't know what we'd say, who'd be doing what, and I knew that if they'd ask, I'd not have much to talk about except for my work and NYC life. Family? Kids? Wife? Girlfriend? Hell, dog, cat? I got nothing.

I dragged my little sister Lindsay to the event as my date (and possible buffer), but as soon I got to the fields, I felt transported back to childhood. I remembered running track at the end of the year track meet -- oh what a sweet memory. And then so many of the people I've known longer than anyone in my life were streaming in. Most with their beautiful kids in tote. I think only 12 or so people out of our class of 80ish showed up. I sure wish more people had come, but what can you do?

But what was so neat was that almost all of the people who did come were the people who'd actually gone through the Ruidoso School System for pretty much their entire education. A few had moved before graduation, others had moved into town after kindergarten, but these were truly "my people" in that they had experienced the same town, teachers, principals, flash floods, forest fires, cliques, opportunities, stores, sports, the endless plane crashes in town (including the one which crashed in my front yard up the road from the school, an experience I'll write about soon), and so many life events that I had.

It was beautiful. I sat and talked with so many of my friends that I'd lost touch with and at various points wondered about. We talked and asked about everyone. Interestingly, as I often feel like I've lost touch with so many friends and never have been much of a stereotypical gossipper, I think I might have known more about more people than just about anyone else there. Then again, maybe everyone walks away from these things thinking that.

I also got to see some other former classmates later that afternoon, including the first girl I ever, well, felt up. Of course, I also remember getting in trouble for jumping on her bed when we were like three years old, so what can I say? I've known her forever. Though I felt again like I was in some sort of time-space wrinkle as I pulled up behind the old lumber yard where I'd loaded I don't know how many tons of wood over the years for various building projects. I even remembered visiting the old house behind it as I pulled into the driveway of one of the now-deceased patriarchs of the village where she and my other old friends were hanging.

Nervous as I was when I pulled up in my 1976 Rusted old F150 pickup truck to my first day of high school, I got out of my mom's giant SUV and walked up to the porch. Awkwardly at first, we eventually broke the ice with a toast to 2006, and I sipped on some sort of spiked beverage.

Afterward, I stopped back by Elyn's, where we had spent part of the afternoon, and more people whom I'd known pretty much all my life were there, and we all piled into a couple big vehicles and headed downtown. A half beer in and having just ordered a new round, I realize I'd not eaten dinner. So Vince and I hop into my mom's vehicle and head to the one and only Ole Taco where my parents had gotten sick once when I was a little kid and I loved to eat at anyway.

After chatting for a while with Vince's girlfriend's relatives, who also happen to be my sister's boyfriend's (who by the way, whips up meals to challenge any hip NYC restaurant) and a former classmate of mine's parents, we head back up and find ourselves sipping Bud at the Win Place and Show where a live country band is rockin' the house with some great classic country covers. (While I'm on the small town kick, the next day I pulled over and offered a ride to a "kid" walking down the street. He was going to library which was on my way and it turned out he was the bassist in the band I'd seen the night before.) We get a phone call from the others and they're across the street at Quarter's, which is absolutely hopping by Ruidoso standards with lots of rich young white kids from Texas two-stepping to country and grinding to dance music, depending on what's playing.

It's getting to be 3am NYC time (1am Ruidoso) and my mind's been melted by the sum of the day's flashbacks, new experiences, and the intimacy of it all. We're taking bad pictures with our cameras, and as I snap a picture of Michael a Texan smartass sticks his face in front of my camera as he passes us on his way to the bathroom. I get up and start after him and I make some comment to the others joking that I'm going to go talk shit to the "outsider".

Lots of hugs and handshakes later and I'm walking out the door and Michael and I are talking about life's struggles and changes and what not and he says, "The thing is, Cody. In the end, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that you are present." That comment's been boomeranging around my head since.

So the reunion was a trip, it was neat, it was heartwarming, it was fun, and it was heartbreaking too. I've written before about how I wonder about whether I've sacrificed the right things in life as I am in this different world so disconnected from where I come from and my family and oldest friends. I loved seeing how some of my old friends had grown these families, some of which included like three or four kids already. Doesn't it just about say it all that I just struggled to find the right word "grown"..."built"...both make me think of good businesses. And I guess that's what I'm pondering as I'm back here in the big city. Alone. By choice. But hopefully present. Hmm.


Blogger Hector & Barrie said...

Cody you are my hero man! That was the most sincere and heart-felt post i have ever read man. I am now a HUGE fan of yours. I also trade stocks (I suck though) I read everything you post on realmoney Im a subscriber

8/23/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Cody Willard said...

Wow, H&B, that's really nice of you. We all suck at trading stocks somtimes, btw, perserverance is the key.

8/23/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger jibbah said...

In ancient Mongolia warriors would have their families in tow before going into battle. Why? Because if you had your family behind you, you would fight more fiercely. Even today's war machine has to input some type of idealism or purpose whether that be, let's say ridding the planet of an evil tyrant who has weapons of mass destruction or 70 virgins in the afterlife. Bottom line, giving a soldier a reason to fight. These cheerleadering reasons are certainly not about being in the PRESENT. I think Vietnam vets would back me up on this one.

We singles who "got nothing" have to ask ourselves, "For what am I fighing?" Fame? Ego? Money? The illusion of security? I'd have to say there is truth is in what your buddy Michael had to say. Being present appears to melt away those "battles" and then nothing matters not only in the end, but NOW. Or perhaps Mr. Lennon said it best, "Imagine all the people living for today......"

8/24/2006 07:51:00 AM  

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