For nearly a year we had been planning this get together. I felt almost giddy with anticipation as the day arrived for the eight of us to meet for a reunion. And then, there was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that somehow we might not know what to say to each other. Fear that we’d feel awkward after having not seen each other for nearly forty-six years. Fear that was so intense I almost cancelled going. Ridiculous, but real. Sure, some of the girls had gotten together through the years, but for me, I had almost no contact with any of them since high school. We had all changed in that time and I the confident adult was suddenly an insecure teenager. My fears were palatable – and then there we were, just school girls – having a ball.
Worry, Worry, Worry
I think all of us were worried that the house might be small and we’d be cramped together like in a dormitory. Our needs as senior adults were different than the teens we were in 1969. The questions to Linda began to fill the text boxes of each of our phones. Will there be room for all of us to sleep comfortably? How many bathrooms will there be? I snore. I need to make trips to the bathroom several times during the night. Are we going to be squished together in just two bedrooms? Linda just kept assuring us, “there’ll be room.” When we arrived at her historic home – all our fears were put to rest. It was huge!
History Comes Alive
Our first order of business was a tour of the home place. This house had been cut into two parts, brought by boat and then reassembled in historic Dunnellon, Florida. Once inside the house, the enormity of the feat of carrying the structure in two parts to be reassembled became clear.
Where the two parts had been joined became a four-square living area with four alcoves. Each alcove had its own sitting area and interest centers accessorized with family heirlooms and family photographs. The hardwood floors were in immaculate condition, and all the furniture reupholstered and refinished by Linda and her sister. Each piece had history, and as we wandered throughout the house it was as if in a museum, listening to the curator. This was truly a place to be proud of, and we were to spend the next several days enjoying fellowship in this rich place of family history.
After the tour, the many oohs and ahhs as we saw various items and pictures, we finally settled into the main living area to begin the journey of catching up on our lives. Little groups all talking at once, occasional bursts of laughter as a memory was recalled, and a few tears as we discovered a heartache that we’d not known before, intermingled within the halls of this home which held its own stories of living. I had moments of feeling somehow absent, looking on from a distant perspective, and finding it so restive. A bit like I felt as a child when all around me the adults chattered and the voices blended into a pleasant melody of rising and falling inflections.
Perfect Centerpiece for the Reunion
After several hours of catching up, we reached for the photographs on the coffee table. Our main centerpiece was not one that typically would adorn any of our tables back home – but perfect for this reunion. There in the middle of the collection of scrapbooks, yearbooks, loose B&W photographs, was the fishbowl. Complete with what else? Goldfish! No, not the goldfish from the pet store. These goldfish were the ones each of us had familiarity with as we had fed them to our children and grandchildren through the years. Now it was time for us to simply enjoy munching them as we shared memories.
Around the Kitchen Table
As the aromas from our simmering supper began drifting through the house, we began to gravitate toward the kitchen. The kitchen table became our new gathering place for the remainder of our time together. This is where the fun really began. The living room with couches, easy chairs, comfy footrests yielded to the kitchen table. Dragging in additional chairs, we squeezed together around the table and the stories began all over again. These stories would be different. These would be the stories that would yet again bind our hearts together – perhaps for the next 46 years. (Let’s see, that would bring us to our 110th birthdays, right?) “Stories Around the Kitchen Table”, hmmm, that has a nice ring to it. I believe that will be something I’ll have to write about very soon.
As we were packing up at the end of our time together, Diane and I discovered that no one had touched the goldfish. We had been so excited about the photos and the “catching up” that no one had taken time to snack – until we got to the kitchen table. The goldfish had been neglected – and yet, they had been such an important part of the conversation when we had first arrived. We had all commented about them, the unique presentation in the fish bowl with a net…and then we’d gotten too busy to open the bag. Perhaps next time, we’ll empty the bag into the bowl so we can just reach in and “catch” a fish as we talk.
When I was doing my Thanksgiving shopping recently, I passed the Goldfish in the grocery aisle…and my mind jumped back in time. Memories of the little snack cups in the car filled with Goldfish for the grandchildren, my Sunday School class full of three-year-old children, always wanting Goldfish for their snack…these memories, yes. But the immediate memory was of the precious days of fellowship with my girlfriends in Dunnellon, Florida. There’s just something nostalgic about the memory.
Shaking off the Fears
My thoughts of fear and apprehension about getting together with these dear ones of my past – vanished. I’m so glad I didn’t give into to my fears about what if, what if, what if….and instead went to the reunion and filled my heart with memories of what is, what is, what is!!!
After all, when one gazes on the picture of the group as captured in Dunnellon, who could even think of being intimidated or frightened. What a fun group. Can’t wait to do it all over again.
Snack Ideas for Small Gatherings
- Keep it Simple
- Make it easily accessible
- Have variety – sweet, salty, fresh vegetables and fruit
I’m definitely hoping to get together with this bunch again. I’d love to get some of your ideas for your favorite quick and easy snacks.