Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twenty years & still going strong: Part 3 "The Reunion"

(Feel free to catch up on Part 1 or Part 2 by doing the clicky clicky on the links.)

Part 3 of this post has been a long time in coming. Part 2 was posted on September 4th and it's now December 18th. Quite a bit has gone on since then. Work has been exceptionally busy and I've not had near enough free time to put my experiences into a more accessible form. For those that have been wanting me to finish, you have Dani to thank for this. Hopefully she'll get to read this before she leaves for Rio.

Pre-pre Func:
Saturday morning started somewhat late. I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3AM by the time I actually slept, and 9AM seemed like torture. Nevertheless, I made it out of bed and got myself ready for what lay ahead.

Michelle, Kristelle, Joe and I stayed at the Quinault Beach Resort. That's "QBR" for those of us who like to use acronyms. I enjoyed the room and the appointments. I think I'd like to take my wife down there for a weekend getaway. What I didn't enjoy was the lack of a coffee maker. I understand the economics of the lack, I just don't like it. I wasn't there to gamble and the likelihood that I would dropped by a factor of 10 by their lack of support of my caffeine habit.

As it happened, all four of us NEEDED coffee of some sort and we met up and set out to find some. This proved more difficult that one might think. We wanted a Starbuck's. Believe it or not, the only "Starbuck's" anything was a snack area in one of the hotels that served it's coffee. That's it. I would have thought that Ocean Shores would have at least 1, maybe 2, by now. No such luck.

We found a place that served coffee eventually though. The name escapes me, but it was across the street from the IGA grocery store that used to be called Dick's. We spent a good deal of time sitting in the "guest area" and talking. Catching up and just enjoying the fact that our families were at home and we had nowhere to be until much later in the day.

With our caffeine addictions sated, we parted ways. Joe and I went out to the house he grew up in and then to The Sand Castle for food & fried bread. We also made a stop at the liquor store. The rest of the afternoon was pleasant and restful. I found out later that Michelle & Kristelle (yep, still rhymes..) went to the beach.

The details, at this point, are a little fuzzy, but we all agreed that we'd meet in Joe's room before the actual reunion for drinks. Our foray to the liquor store resulted in finding a very fine, locally distilled gin. That, some limes and tonic water formed the core of our refreshments for the evening. Yes, even the ladies participated. It would start of with "Oh, I don't like gin." Joe or I would respond with "It doesn't taste like a Christmas tree." They'd respond with "Oh, you're right" and we'd end up making another not too long after.

Joe, Kristelle, Michelle and I started at around 6pm. Dani, Amber and Chris (Amber's husband and all-around great guy) showed up soon afterward. Diane showed up at some point after that as well. We talked and laughed (sound familiar?) until we realized that the reunion had already started and we weren't there. I was nursing a decent buzz by then and we made our way to the door.

The Reunion:
Chris was gracious enough to be our designated driver. We piled into his SUV and went to the Ocean Shores Inn and arrived at around 8ish. The group of folks that organized and put on the reunion did a fantastic job. The food was good and we were spared any of the "award" ceremonies. Thanks Steve & Jen-nei for a great time.

While we arrived together, we spent most of the night mingling with classmates. Some we remembered, some we didn't. Some we recognized, some we didn't. But, in all, it was great seeing everyone again. We would fan out amongst the crowd and when we met in passing, we'd compare notes on who we saw and what they were up to.

I particularly enjoyed seeing a few people. Rob S. was absolutely as funny as he was in school. No, I wasn't moving in on his action, but it was fun to make him think I was. Rip and his wife were fantastic. I didn't realize that we knew some of the same motocross people. Steve B. was a surprise to see. He was one of the first friend I had when I moved to Hoquiam when I was 10. I was glad he could make it. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Lance & Angel too. Raylene and Becky were a joy as well.

Throughout the night, a few minor things seemed out of place, though. A few of our friend couldn't make it, and I missed them. I didn't particularly care for how a certain person was treating Michelle, and would have gladly opened up a can of whoopass should it have been necessary. Thankfully, it wasn't. The person we dubbed "The train wreck" was a constant distraction. It wasn't necessarily bad, but the behavior, attire and general attitude was a constant source of conversation.

At one point of the night, I distinctly remember being grabbed by both arms and dragged onto the dance floor by Dani & Kristelle (now that doesn't rhyme at all...). I didn't realize what was going on until I was already out there. One minute I'm talking to someone and BAM!, I'm being dragged out to the floor. I was thoroughly glad that I'd had enough alcohol to break through my blatant "white-guyness" and allow me to have fun. And before he has a chance to comment, yes, Joe did teach me everything I know around dancing. Thanks bud.

The reunion proper wound down at 10PM. We piled into Chris & Amber's SUV and headed back to the QBR to change. Our night wasn't over by a long shot.

Post Func:
As we talked to friends, the same question came up: What's happening after this is over? Our response to a person was: We're heading to the QBR and will continue the night there. It wasn't a disappointment. In all, I think there were about 40 of us that met up afterward. In fact, I think we actually took over the bar. As for people, I sat with Marni, Amy, Michelle G. & Lisa and had a nice chat. We didn't spend a whole lot of time together in school, but it was good to see them again and talk.

The highlight of the QBR part of the night was seeing Joe, Steve B. and a few others dancing with several ladies who I'd classify as older than a MILF and younger than elderly. The blackmail material was too good to pass up, but I missed the boat. The camera on phone didn't do it justice and didn't have anything better.

In all honesty, I can't recall specifics about that part of the night. The combination of the amount of drinking I'd done, the lack of sleep and time lag between August and today has taken away the details of the QBR bar experience. I do recall this, however. We all said our farewells, promised to keep in touch on Facebook and made our way upstairs. It was around 2am.

Post, Post Func:
Michelle, Dani, Joe, Kristelle and I closed out our night in Michelle & Kristelle's room. Amber & Chris went home at some point prior to us meeting up there, I think. This was probably the best part of the night, for me. It ended as it started, with us sitting around and talking. I can't forget the last of our Champagne (of Beers) as well.

It was around 3am that I finally got to sleep. I didn't sleep well, but managed to feel somewhat rested the next day. I was tired, but it was bearable. Joe, Michelle, Kristelle and I checked out, loaded our cars and met for breakfast at around 11am. You could tell that we'd had fun, though. We sat, staring at our coffee cups and not saying much. Personally, I was wishing for aspirin & water and my hat pulled down low over my eyes because it just felt better that way. Really, it did. It wasn't because the light was a blazing fireball that seared my retinas at all.

We eventually made it through breakfast and said our farewells. I got into my car and headed out, looking forward to going home to my wife and kids.

Random Thoughts:

The Facebook Effect
I started thinking about the reunion about 6 months before. I've been on Facebook for a while but had recently started spending more time trying to find folks from school. I think it was worth it. The majority of people I'd kept track of were there and we got to talk about more than the standard questions: What do you do? Are you married? Kids? Where do you live? etc. I think that really enhanced my enjoyment of the whole event. I still keep track of everyone and we get to interact there still. In fact, Dani's harassment encouragement of me to finish this came by way of Facebooks' chat feature.

Most of my high school friends didn't know this, but I had a bad attitude my entire senior year of high school. I was angry about many things that I've come to grips with over the years. After that weekend, I came to realize that I love and respect my high school friends. We may not have kept in touch, I missed them and was very eager to see them all again. I realized that I didn't want to lose touch with them and will make sure that I make every effort to see them more often.