September 26, 2007
WHO SAID YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN ?
Whoever said "You can't go home again " wasn't from Alabama. I was welcomed as if I were the long lost prodigal daughter .
I knew each one by name, of course, since we'd attended the same school from elementary on up. But I was looking for the faces I knew 45 years ago and while some distinctive features never change, others do , and I was not very successful , to my dismay, in identifying some of them. Most were still living in the area and so they knew each other and I was the only one they hadn't seen in so long so it was easy to pick me out. I'm so sure that if I'd of passed them on the street they wouldn't know me either.
Ginger, the gorgeous , long-legged beauty and head majorette at Winfield High who could've easily been Miss Alabama in her day , hosted a gathering at her lovely home. She was the same sweet girl she used to be as we say down South. As was everyone for that matter. We all came from different circumstances, some fortunate and others no so much like moi, but no one made you feel any different.
I traveled the greatest distance and everyone was interested in hearing what I had been doing with my life since high school. They seemed to be intrigued that I was an artist and garden designer in the big city of Chicago.
The reunion was hosted by one of our classmates in a beautiful home set on about 20 acres on the outskirts of town. It was tastefully decorated by the owner's wife who sewed all of the exquisite drapes herself. Each one was a work of art. Had the house been sitting on a lot in Chicago it would have easily been appraised at 4 million dollars, but because things are so much more reasonable down South, I heard one of my real estate broker classmates say around a half million was the value.
The interesting thing is that my classmate who owned the house was the son of a farmer and , as I recall, he was never that great a student. He was however, hard working and learned a skill - brick laying. With his own hands he built a business and a fortune. Money didn't change him, however. He was still the same unassuming person he was back in high school.
One of my classmates and good friends, Niki, moved back home after many years in Illinois. Her dear mother, who recently passed away, had been like a mother to me and my sisters. We visited with her and she took me around to see all the old homes we once lived in.
At the closing of the reunion the president of our high school class announced that four of our classmates had passed away this year. As the names were called I remembered their faces and distinct personalities and said a silent prayer for their departed souls.
Not only did I go home again but I think that if I stayed any longer I would pick up that contagious Southern drawl rather quickly. I believe it was Mark Twain who said that " Southerners speak poetry. " It sure was music to these ears.