40 years is a long time. It’s even longer when you realize it doesn’t encompass all of you. Just 40 of your years. As time goes on you get to a point where you know you have more years behind you than ahead. You look back on things you miss and sometimes wish you had a do-over.
A mulligan for life, I suppose.
This last weekend I found myself looking back at things 40+ years ago. Not in pictures. Not in casual conversation among family and friends. But going back to “live it again” in as much as you can.
It started off as a 40 year class reunion and while Paris is only 90 some odd minutes from me, I seldom went back. No need really. Lost track of most of those friends over the decades as Im sure they lost track of me. But somehow one of those friends find you and adds you on facebook. You look around and see someone you remember for reasons you really don’t understand.
You just remember.
Add them too. Wait a bit and start IM’ing. Over time you just start going over the list of people in our heads and a lot of OH YEA’s and “no, i don’t remember” conversations happen. Then these friends tell you “hey, 40 year reunion is coming up!” and at first you get tricked into going by an unsuspecting move one makes.
And you promise to go.
The day finally comes and you run out of extremely, but intentionally, poor excuses to back out. So you’re in Paris Texas with a few days to kill. I won’t go into the reunion a whole lot. Several people did put a lot of effort into it for all of us and it was very cool. Both nights. Catch up with friends. Don’t recognize a few. At all.
Will be given a hard time about that one for quite awhile, I’m sure. (hush, Marla)
What hit me the most was the 40 years. Life can take so long to pass you lose track of things along the way and tend to just live another day. And another.
Then barriers to memories fall like dominos in your mind. 1 certain picture from this weekend will always stand out to me as it made me “lose it” for some time today. I won’t go into the specifics. Those don’t matter to anyone but me really. But we all have those…specifics. Those moments where it hits you where you really are.
All you’ve lived. All you’ve lost. All that is around the corner waiting to be found.
It’s amazing what one picture can do, huh? Something I certainly didn’t expect to see even still around. But it was and it in far too many ways summed everything up. The people we link to objects in our memories is strong. Then a memory you didn’t expect to see crashes everything else around you.
It makes you focus on all you’ve lost. The people. The dreams. The time.
Lord, the time.
I spent much of the weekend going over all the things I’ve lived through. The first was simply driving around Paris taking random shots of anything I thought was interesting. The second was a road trip to our home in the country in Powderly, TX. The 2 that got me up there for the weekend were kind enough to go with me on this trip and let me tell you, that was the real highlight. Lunch and a few hours just driving around making each other laugh while digging through my strange memories.
The pics that show the zombie apocalypse is upon us is that house. That’s the one that hurt because it was a gorgeous property in its time with so many memories from those 40 years ago. We didn’t know what to expect when we drove up a long hidden driveway to the house, but we did know it was for sale from the sign out front.
Pre-excuses made about being interested in buying it and my camera in hand, we were covered in case anyone was home.
Well, no one had been “home” here for far too many years. However, we weren’t out there but 5 minutes when another car drove up behind us and I was suddenly never go glad we all practiced our alibi. Turns out it was a realtor who had a key and let us go inside. Good idea or bad, it was done and surreal is the only word that seems to fit that 5 minutes back inside of 40 years ago. The house itself will never be the same.
Now it’s a bulldozer target and a place for the next persons dreams, I suppose.
Leaving that behind, we took the time to go see their old properties and hear those stories and drive around looking for a phone booth in the middle of a field. (hush, Cindy)
Back on my own, I even drove out 45 miles to go back to the 1 year we lived on a 100 acre “ranch” outside of Avery, TX. I didn’t bother pulling into that long driveway but went on into Avery instead with a different mindset. I stopped by the high school first and was brought crashing into our modern times.
In a town of 424 people.
I first thought of all the changes in 40 years when i saw gates and fences around Paris High School. But it wasn’t until Avery High that it hit me. A sign out front saying they will use guns and whatever force needed to protect their students.
So yea, try that in a small town, huh?
You then realize in the early 80s the problems you faced were more life growing up and the occasional bully and bad nights of broken hearts. Those were your biggest real problems. How did we fall so far that our schools and what should be your own growing years filled with your own memories are not all about simply getting out of school alive?
And no I don’t believe we have a gun problem. We have a violent culture problem and guns are simply 1 way of far too many to express it. Fix the cause of the violence and the rest takes care of itself.
No more politics now, promise.
I backed away and drove into what was left of Avery. Not much. However, since i couldn’t take pics of the house itself, I decided to rely on a 43 year old memory for a different perspective. We did used to ride horses to the back of the property where a gravel / dirt road ran into town, 3.2 miles away. I found the road, counted the miles, and found the back of the property.
You’ll see the roof in the distance in one of the pictures. The gravel / dirt road in the trees is that road I was on.
43 years ago. Then yesterday.
I made it back to Paris in time to clean up and head out to the dinner part of the reunion for night 2. Saw a few more people I didn’t see the night before and honestly had a good time.
I didn’t find out til today that Cindy and Marla were planning to act on an earlier conversation we had driving around and they were going to toilet paper my truck at the reunion.
That would have been…. EPIC.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stay for it all and maybe that’s part of my own problem I seem to remember a lot. I left a little too soon and missed out on something really cool. Note to self, stop leaving so soon. Take the time to pay attention to the details cause you never know which one will mean the world to you later. Take it all in. The good and the bad both take up space in our memories and sometimes those can change over time.
Anyway, what does looking back 40+ years tell you about looking ahead? Nothing.
Somewhere in between, I suppose.
I know only a few are going to get this far in all this. Y’all stuck around til the end and I hope you found something “epic” to take out of it in your own right.
Cherish your memories and take the time to make new ones. You never know when one that seems so simple will crash everything else around you.
random pics from the weekend in no specific order. No, I won’t say which one hit me the hardest.6