Since my mother died, my trips back to Sweet Home Alabama have been few and far between. I guess the pain of losing her and all my connections at one time seemed to just be too much. Without a bedroom and bath awaiting me anytime I happened to have a whim to visit, visiting now required making arrangements and imposing on others that might not find my spontaneity charming, just inconvenient.
A few years ago I made some tentative connections with a friend from school and we’ve kept in touch. When Fran found herself chairing the fiftieth reunion for our high school class, I somehow got involved too. Now I had a purpose in going home, at least occasionally. Fairly nice hotels aren’t too expensive, and it would be a chance to visit my brother and his family and my oldest and dearest friend. So, I agreed to attend a meeting of the reunion committee, and ended up with a nice invitation to stay with my friend…and her new husband…so we planned a weekend visit. My brother and his wife were free, so we scheduled a day with them at the lake and an evening of college football.
I can’t remember when I’ve been so blissfully happy.
Montgomery has changed. The action is primarily in a part of town that I didn’t even know existed when I left there fifty years ago. There were nice restaurants I’d never visited, new developments designed for empty nesters, and it seemed like a great place to be.
I found our old lake house mostly unchanged, and the changes that my brother and his wife have made have enhanced enjoyment of the beautiful clear lake without losing the charm of an early 1950’s style cabin. We rode around and looked at all the fabulous mansions sprawling around the lake, but when I arrived back at the cabin and sat on the screened porch overlooking the tranquil lake, I hoped it would always be home to me.
My meeting with old classmates to plan the reunion had created a bit of anxiety on my part. I had not seen most of them in at least thirty years, some in nearly fifty. I was never really a leader in my class, and kind of hung out on the fringes of the action, usually unaware of how hard those leaders worked in extra-curricular activities because I spent most of my free time either with my nose in a book or on the phone with my boyfriend. Would they recognize that I’d found some gifts of my own as I matured? Would they discount the possibility of a dumpy little housewife being able to make a contribution? Would we even recognize each other or have memories? All those fears vanished as we greeted each other with hugs around mostly well padded bodies, shared a sandwich and a glass of wine, and got down to business.
My contribution to the meeting was warmly received, and I got more positive strokes in that one night than I often get in a whole year. It was blissful!
Part of my time in Montgomery was spent getting acquainted with Florence’s charming new husband, Howard. We laughed and told stories and got to know each other. We shared some delicious meals, and began a new kind of friendship as adult couples. I also squeezed in brief visit to her Aunt Ruth, who lives in the house where my mother spent her last couple of years, and one with my oldest nephew on his thirtieth birthday.
I can’t wait to go home again!