High School Reunion – Friday Morning

Day One.   I step out of the airline terminal into the perfect weather of a southern California summer.  The temperature is 72 F, the humidity is low but not desert dry,   A gust of nostalgia brushes through me, remembering a youth when shorts and a t-shirt were my wardrobe, and orange blossom scented the air in spring. What greets me now is miles of cement and skyscrapers and traffic. 

My companions are arriving later, so I hop on  the shuttle to the Marriott Irvine.  They don’t have my reservation.  My confirmation number is in my suitcase.  Five o’clock in Raleigh was a long time ago.  This is, after all, my 50th high school reunion, which means a spring chicken I ain’t .  A pleasant young Hispanic man gives me a room on the twelfth floor at the group rate, even though he does not find my reservation, so all is well. 

Yvonne and Joan ring me at 4:00 pm or so, and we meet downstairs for a drink and chatter.  We have met up before, in Nevada City a couple of years ago, so the changes time has wrought in our bodies is not a shock.  The relationships between us hasn’t changed much at all – we find plenty to talk about it. 

Yvonne and Joan have rented a red Chevy Impala.  We take off in grand style to our old haunts in Santa Ana.  The three of us lived in the south side of town, and we find our homes were within blocks of each other, though we didn’t know it until Junior High School. We wonder how our families managed in these tiny, one bathroom houses.  They seemed bigger back then. 

The drive-in where we used to hang out is tiny and shabby.  I swear it isn’t where I remember, but am outvoted by Joan and Yvonne.  It doesn’t spark many memories because it is so dilapidated, and the big, warehouse type building next to it sits on what was once a parking lot.  (I think).  It was called the IN N’ OUT, nothing to do with the current chain, but I always think of this one, our Mecca,  when I pass one.  It was the ritual Friday night hang out, or any night when we could snag our parents’ car and  cruise past on Main Street to see if the current indispensable boy- of- our- lives was there.  If he was there, we never stopped for a coke, just shrieked and hid our heads.