Hometown Proud

After months of comparing calendars and juggling schedules, at 11:30 a.m. a few Fridays ago, I was finally going to be reunited with an “old” friend. Except for a too-brief conversation and a quickie hug at our 30th-year Porterville High School Class of ’75 reunion, I had not seen Therese in 38 years.

So I was a nervous wreck. I was full of trepidation, atwitter with anticipation. I felt like I was going on a blind date or something. After the initial hug and “Omigosh, you look exaaaactly the same!”  (don’t we all say that to each other?), would the silence be deafening and painful?

Because I mean, we weren’t like BFF’s in high school. But we were in a couple of classes together, and we were each on the periphery of the other’s clique/bubble/circle of friends. You know what I mean?  Do you remember that girl from high school that you, like, never had over for a slumber party, never went shopping for prom dresses with, who wasn’t a part of your inner circle, but who you really, really admired and liked from afar?  Well, Therese was that girl  for me.   

So the doorbell rang. I opened the door. We shrieked in unison. We squeezed each other tightly. I said, “Omigosh, you look exaaactly the same!”  (which she pretty much did, actually). Okay. This was gonna be awesome. I knew immediately that there would be zero awkward moments between us.

I said, “Seriously. Let me look at you!” We then headed right to the mirror in my living room and happily, unabashedly, compared our 38-years-later selves.  I was the blue ribbon winner.  Yep, I won in all categories: biggest thighs, yellowest teeth, and most lines and bags.

But all that mattered not a scintilla. For we had a lot of catchin’ up to do.

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{“Reunited…and it feels so good.”}

So I first showed her one of her works of art, an original Therese Fowler Bailey, (yep, she’s a well-known, prolific, talented artist. Google her name and see for yourself), now proudly hanging in my dining room! And then I introduced her to my 24-year-old Cassidy (who is six years older than we were when we last spent time together. Surreal, truly.) We next headed to

the local Gold River Starbucks…where we commenced Part 1 of what will surely be a 12-part series of rehashing the past almost-four decades.

My life? It reads like a boring textbook: 1.0 husbands. 2.0 children. 3.0 Kenmore washing machines. Living the quintessential suburban life. (Wake up! I know you’re bored.)

Her life? It reads like a dramedy: Worthy of many exclamation points (!!!!!), packed full of real-life stories, virtual roller-coasters, and colorful humor.

“Do you remember reading those articles about me back in the Eighties?” she asked (but not in a braggy sort of way at all.)

“Nooooo. What? What are you talkin’ about?”

Here’s the deal:  Many news outlets throughout the state wrote about my then uber-pregnant friend, as her baby boy, Blake, was one of the first test-tube babies born in California! Big news back then…as well it should have been. He’s a robust, healthy, good-looking, late 20’s guy now, the apple of her (gorgeous) eye(s).

Okay. And then the conversation wended its way to the Porterville peeps of our past.  Therese stayed in town quite a bit longer than I did, so she had a lot of the nitty-gritty scoop. Not gossip, mind you, just accurate, historical, truthful, honest scoop. 

Our fellow classmates were, it seems, now scattered hither and yon, a lot of them settling in various locales —  the East Coast,  Europe, Africa, in a trailer on the outskirts of town.  A couple of them, as it turns out, ran for office (and won!); several successfully ran their own businesses; and one or two were…run out of town. 

And of course it wouldn’t be a real heart-to-heart if we didn’t discuss our friends who had fought their fair share of battles — of the bulge, of the bottle, of cancer — and had come out victorious; and one or two who had fought the battle of their own demons, and lost.

We also commiserated and complained about those schleps from the Class of ’75 who never go to a reunion, never send a Christmas card, never call out o’ the blue, never email, and never go on Facebook.  Shame on you!

Which reminds me: This blog post, this wonderful rediscovery of a long lost hometown friend, was made possible by FACEBOOK!  That’s how Therese and I found each other after all these years. I hereby profess my love and devotion to Facebook…which I check about nine times a day. (Shhhhhh. Please don’t tell my husband.)

Below is what Therese sent me a few weeks after we ‘Friended’ each other on FB.  Someone, long ago, Graduation Day, June of 1975 to be precise, snapped this pic, which I’ll treasure forever…

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{T is in the foreground. I’m to her right as you look at the pic.}

(Check out our Sbicca shoes! Remember those? I want hers!)

*****

So there we sat at Starbucks, sippin’ our lattes, relishing the moment, happily digging into our past.

Krista, Joey, Becky, Steve, Kit, Greg, Rich, Julianne, Cameron and Felipe (and many more): Were your ears burning a few Fridays ago? ‘Cuz they should have been. ‘Cuz we were talking about you all — reliving moments spent on Main and Olive, or Pizza Barn, or at Jamison Stadium, or at The Porter Theatre,  or (ahem) in a certain car in a certain orange grove/overlooking a certain lake.

We chatted about the ties that bind — the love and pride of our beloved hometown that many of us left behind, the part we played in the rich history of PHS, and the fact that no one can ever take away those cherished memories of the simpler, less complicated times of our lives.

(Sheesh. I’m getting dewy-eyed.)

So our four-hour fun Friday friend-fest came to an end.  But not without knowing that this was only the beginning of a renewed, reinvigorated and, shall we say, ‘more mature’ friendship.

Here’s cheers to at least 38 more years.

(By the way, when is our next class reunion?) :)

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5 Responses to Hometown Proud
  1. Julianne
    April 5, 2013 | 8:05 pm

    Great article, Jodie! Porterville was the most wonderful place to grow-up. It’s so fun to relive it in your articles!! xo Julianne

  2. Therese Fowler-Bailey
    April 5, 2013 | 9:26 pm

    Where do I start???… CANNOT Stop GRINNING!! Seriously.. Right a Book DAMNIT!! Page Turner and NYX’s B.S.List *Wait that didn’t sound right) I tell you my story… ALL of the GOOD, the BAD and the BLACKOUTS.. Wait a Minute.. I can’t remember my blackouts.. but everyone Else DOES! Conspire to Create. OK ’nuff of the fun.
    Seriously, Jody I can’t believe how you compiled all of those words so “floW-eee”!!
    You left out the BEST Part EVER.
    YOU LOOK THE SAME!
    When you tried to show me your wrinkles somewhere on your beautiful face.. I’m thinking “WHAT..?? WHERE?? STOP it!”
    You forgot one of the highlights.. ALL OF YOUR ARCHITECTURAL perfectly Patina’d Awesome ART! BIG Boss ART!! Groovy Vintage FRAMES so perfectly Empty but ART!! Vinnette’s of Love in Bedroom Corners. The Wicked Blue Kitchy corner of different Cobalt Blues. Your Total Lovely Guest Bath with a fresh Camellia.
    Highlight #2 left out:
    Then the daughter arrives..Gorgeous and with her “no Big Deal” response says ” It went well, He offered me a position with them”~~ Why was I there for one of the biggest moments of your Kackers LIFE? GodSHoT!
    So many Firsts with us that day Jodie. I, too, felt a bit apprehensive… We really didn’t run in the same circs..But yrs later we just HIT IT OFF and TALK in SHorTHand All DAY!
    What an article you just wrote. All About our special peeps from the 70’s at PHS. What a ride it has been. The best part is my feeling so comfortable around a “SongLeader slash Homecoming Queen slash so perfect in everyway classmate, that to play a game of catch up and relive our high school Days at PHS, was the most comfortable, full of laughter and Heartfelt WARM Sunshine Days I’ll not forget~ THANK YOU Your Talent to take it from your head, heart and soul and compose your Blog so full of Smooth Sentences is Amazing!! Never forget your putting “NeoPhyte” in my vocab at Mikunis. Silly but seemed to have been GodSHot #2. I saw it, read it, ran into it 2 times the next day when I got home. Great stuff. Big Ken says Hi to You and Charles, Chuck the Third.

  3. joey
    April 5, 2013 | 9:32 pm

    I feel so extremely fortunate to have the pleasure and honor of knowing the both of you.
    l know an artist and a writer, sweet.

  4. Nancy Buckner
    April 6, 2013 | 12:16 am

    Jodie, Once again I thoroughly loved your blog! I will shout from the waaaaaaay over priced new roof here in Gold Spike Village we have, how much I loved FB!!!! I’ve reconnected with soooo many wonderful friends from San Bernardino and LaJolla and even got a friendship reunion in Sun Valley, Idaho!
    So darn happy for you and Therese! Come to think of it, I had a great friend and roommate from San Bernardino & Pacific Beach that I also reconnected with on FB and her name was Therese, but we graduated in ’72!!! You sure make me smile!

  5. Dorothy
    April 6, 2013 | 7:44 am

    NICE, JO!xxoo

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About Me

It's true! Despite playing defense virtually all my life against the onslaught of this sometimes-ugly aging process, it...has...arrived! I naively thought I would escape cellulite (the Cottage Cheese) and crow's feet (the Crepe Paper). But I didn't! And why didn't anyone tell me about this emotional roller-coaster that comes with being an Empty-Nester?! My name is Jodie Barringer Myers. I'm a 54-year-old Friday/chardonnay/ hydrangea-loving wife/mom/court reporter living in Sacramento (Gold River!), California. Writing is cathartic for me. And because I look to find humor and humility among the rubble that is my now very peri-menopausal self, I'm hopeful that you will laugh, cry, learn, enjoy and, most of all, relate to what I have to say. After all, we're all in this together, right?

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