Lost in Let’s Remember

Image copyright Fred First We’re very different, Ann and I, in the source from which we take our bearings. Hers are from the demands and obligations of the moment. Each day is the first day of the rest of her life. Mine come from the stepping stones of what has come before–the places and people we have been in our own rights, and to each other; from the people and influences that have guided or misguided us all along our swerving path together since this picture of innocence was taken in 1970. I revisit my image archives often with this view of the present in mind, and finding this wedding picture this morning set the wheels turning, turning back, turning forward.

Soon, we’ll travel far south to her past. I won’t share it. She’ll become who she was in 1966 and before, seeing old girlfriends, prom dates, teachers, places she’s kept locked up in disremembrance all these years until the prospect of this gathering took shape in the spring and carried her back to more hopeful times. Now, for the first instance in our long history, she has become nostalgic. Now, she wants to remember. This full immersion in the places and faces from long ago will be a powerfully exciting and probably powerfully unsettling experience for her, and from far outside the experience, for me.

Funny how, after so many years, you know so much about each other. And so little. In some ways, we are still those two smiling souls living behind today’s tougher exteriors, beneath the scars, having survived hopes met or failed, good times, hard times, lots and lots of times. I still see the June bride in her face at unexpected moments. I imagine I’ll catch a glimpse of it again when she becomes the girl that lived before the young woman I met by chance or fate in college so long ago.

So, she’ll indulge in let’s remember. I think I’ll just move over to the edge of things and have a cold beverage.

Now I told you my reasons for the whole revival
Now I’m going outside to have an ice cold beer in the shade, oh
I’m going to listen to my 45’s, ain’t it wonderful to be alive
When the rock ‘n’ roll plays, yeah
When the memory stays, yeah
I’m keeping the faith, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah — Billy Joel

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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. Thanks for that, Fred. Wonderful photo of you both and interesting thoughts as well. Reunions are a strange experience in altered time, that is for sure.

  2. awww…..you guys are so cute! 🙂 i, too, tend to draw on those foundations in my past- sometimes too much. i have to balance it out and not dwell on it. i won’t have reunions to go to since i was homeschooled during my high school years. sitting back with a cold one sounds like a good idea to me!

  3. Nostalgia is a double-edged sword. I found that returning to Floyd County after a 40 year absence can be a constant high school reunion: Rediscovering old friends and old places becomes a daily affair. But it can also reopen old wounds. Best bet: Go with the flow and let it play out and remember that none of us are the same after four decades.

  4. Ah, this is an advantage of growing up a military brat. I have no home to return too. I met a few college buddies back at school this weekend. That is about as close I’ll get to a reunion!