Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sheep show time! Part 2. Also, 10 years?

Today was a busy day. I got up early to get ready for the fair. I showered, did my hair and got dressed in an outfit that would work for both a sheep show and my 10-year reunion. I wanted to look nice, of course, but not overdressed for either event.

I threw my purse into the old Blue Buick, which features some cosmetic tornado damage and air-conditioning that comes and goes. Once I got to the fair, I found my dad and we ran into Deb VanA. Her daughter (and my life-long friend) Thea arrived soon after with her big, cuddly boyfriend. We watched the show for a while, and then found Thea’s sister (and also my life-long friend), Emily. Emily was with her fiancé, Jonathan, and his entire family, and Debbie’s new husband, Bob. They all sat in the bleachers watching class after class of the sheep show. They even made a game of trying to predict the winner of each class. I was impressed, because watching a sheep show can be boring even if you know exactly what’s going on.

Eventually, it was time for Deb, Emily and Thea to present a trophy. When Craig VanA. died, they donated it in his name. Each year, the winner is inscribed on the trophy. The next year it is handed off to a new winner. It was a nice moment to remember him. Soon after, everyone went their separate ways. I tried to get the girls to agree to a trip down the Big Slide, but they wanted to catch up with people they hadn’t seen yet (it was their first day at the fair). I understood, and besides, it was time to hit the road.

I tried to follow my Mapquest instructions on how to get to Big Creek for the reunion, but a detour left me with nothing to follow but my instincts. Usually, that’s fine, but when I’m driving? Disaster. Well, not this time. I made it to the nearest town, bought some hot dogs, buns and cherries and got directions.

I made it to the reunion. It was nice to see everyone. The person who greeted me most warmly, perhaps, was my childhood nemesis. Isn’t that the way? Actually, I think it’s great. It means that we grew up and gave up petty childhood meaness. At least, I hope she’s given it up. She can at least suspend it for special occasions. Eh, she’s got kids now, and she’s great with them, so I bet she actually is nicer.

Everyone got along and hung out. Everyone looked great, too. There were no cliques. We chatted and caught up. Then I realized Dawn, one of my best friends from high school, still wasn’t there. She told me she was coming from Massachusetts with her fiancé.

“Oh, it was all a big joke,” I mused. “Dawn claimed she was coming to lure me here, and now she’s not going to show.” People laughed. Then I realized I should check my phone. Poor Dawn! She had left a message saying she couldn’t find the place. She’d mixed up Saylorville and Big Creek. (My cousins had had the same mix up, if I recall, for our family reunion.) Anyway, I called her and straightened things out.

Before Dawn arrived, Molly did. Dawn and Molly and I were cheerleaders together, and we always had so much fun. Molly wasn’t in our class, but she married a classmate, Keith. She hadn’t changed a bit. Most people hadn’t changed much and were easy to recognize. Only a dozen people from our class came (we were only a class of 50, anyway). With their spouses and kids, though, there were plenty of peole running around at the picnic.

We sat around reminiscing. I was appalled to learn just how lax our town cop had been regarding drunk driving. Once Dawn arrived, I gave her a big hug and caught up with her and her adorable fiancé, Chris. They’re getting married in October. I think Dawn is one of the people whose appearance has changed the most, but she told me she was shopping in Des Moines the day before and was recognized by a neighbor from when she was ten. Hee. I guess I’ve changed more, because tons of people I know well in Woodward (my hometown) give me I-know-you-but-don’t-know-how looks.

Anyway, she looked great, and happy, and if there’s one person who deserves it, it’s Dawn. We were the last ones to linger at the reunion, and Dawn’s dad came to see her. I knew their time to see each other was limited, so I left them too it, and went home. I was a little jealous, though. Dawn was such a big part of my youth, from middle school (when we were frenemies—friend/enemies) to the end of high school when we were actual friends, and quite close. I’d hoped to spend more time with her.

Wasn’t that just the theme of the day? You can’t get back exactly what you had. You can’t always have what you planned. But you can make the best of what you do have, and take the best lessons and memories of your past with you.

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