We played in the sandbox together. We formed the “Willow Club.” Girls were very reluctantly allowed full membership. The fact is girls even played football with us. I of course had a Bart Starr #15 jersey to wear on such occasions. We constructed elaborate forts adjacent to the shore of Lake Michigan. And as we grew up, we rode our bikes to Shoop Park with our golf bags on our shoulders. We played basketball at the Wind Point Elementary playground and walked to Rosemary’s Corner Store to purchase a pop and a candy bar.
That is a pretty accurate description of my formative years in elementary school. Well sort of…I am leaving out other events that don’t need to be mentioned even though the statute of limitations has run out. At least I hope that is the case! In June of 1975, my world was changed dramatically. My dad accepted a position with his company in faraway Texas. I left the comfort of my Southeastern Wisconsin home on my last day of class in the 7th grade. I didn’t think I would ever see my friends again.
But in less than three weeks I will join nearly 30 former classmates and others my age that I never met. A mini-reunion has been planned for July 22nd. Some still have young children at home. Others are already enjoying an empty nest. There certainly has been a lot of water under the bridge since 1975.
As I reflected on this upcoming event last week, I felt a little nervous. I am like any other adult. There are painful memories of my early years that I have left buried. Even the best archaeologist could not unearth them totally. I dug up just enough of the junk from the past to make me uneasy. I started getting cold feet about the whole thing. But those thoughts passed quickly.
I am confident that we need each other. I am anxious to renew old friendships and form new ones with people that I grew up with technically, but for various reasons we never met. I am looking forward to doing some story listening. I hope to have the opportunity to share a kind or encouraging word.
The power of shared roots is amazing to me. People that grew up together can be separated for decades, but once they are reunited there is a bond that is hard to describe. It is almost as if we are all part of the same novel, but we have simply not been included together in the middle chapters of the book. I am thankful that the novelist has chosen to write additional chapters including the characters that interacted in the plot when they were young.
A chapter will be written in a few weeks that will feature a good number of us. I predict that it will be a portion of the novel that will keep the reader up at night. It won’t be light reading by any stretch of the imagination. The life narratives that will be shared will be intriguing. There will be lots of laughter and reminiscing as well. Girls will even be allowed, but not so reluctantly this time. I think you can see why I am anxious to be Wisconsin bound.