Back to the Future

I woke up in a panic: Oh my gosh, another deadline looming for the newspaper column, and I hadn’t a clue what I would write. And so this morning’s blogging time on the first “free” morning at home in a week has been given over to obligations. I will eventually post the whole piece here, but for now, just an excerpt from a piece about Ann’s recent high school reunion in Mobile:

Friday’s Meet and Greet under the vaulted atrium of the hotel lobby was an informal gathering. I consented to go briefly to be introduced to a few of her most cherished friends. It wasn’t long before I found myself standing among the Ficus trees along the margins, conspicuously disengaged as gray-haired folk passed by for a quick look at my nametag. Was I was another of their classmates grown unrecognizable over the decades?…

…Soon, I slipped away to our fourth floor room; she didn’t even notice. I stood there in the dark quiet and watched the crowd and my wife of thirty-six years, one of the strangers mingling in the lobby below. Hugs, back slaps, handshakes–a hundred ants touching antennae and moving on. We’ve come so far together to be so far apart for these two days, I thought. But such is the stuff of high school reunions, of separate realities that have made us who we are, for better or for worse.

I read it to Ann a little bit ago with the certainty that she would object; it’s rather personal and she is a much more private person than Fred the Blogger. But she is fine with it, and I think this prospect of facing a high school reunion is enough of a shared reality for married folk that it will be of some interest and value for the Floyd Press readers next Thursday.

At any rate, I got that to-do item checked off my list. And now, oh wow, what a beautiful sunrise. I gotta go.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. You nailed it once again, Fred. One of the loneliest times in my entire life was at my husband’s 20th high school reunion. The moment he spotted his old buddies he forgot I existed, and I didn’t know a soul there. I went back to the hotel room as soon as the wretched dinner was over, and he didn’t notice that I hadn’t returned … for the next six hours.

    Apparently this is a common experience. Colleen has a very good idea. If he ever goes again, he’ll go accompanied only by a photo of wife, son & his wife, and grandchildren.

  2. Why would she object? The first time I read this I thought, “Ann’s only thirty-two years old?”

    More coffee obviously required…