was my High School reunion. Well, not really high school. Actually, it was my Junior High School reunion. I used to live in Queens, New York. I grew up there. The place is in my blood and part of everything I am. I had all my “firsts” in Queens. One summer, I went to sleepaway camp, like I always did, with all my friends from Queens. It was, as usual, a blast. Great summer, moreso because I got to be a junior counselor that year.
On the last day of camp, I hugged all my friends goodbye and told them I would see them at school in a couple of weeks. My parents always took us on some stupid vacation at the end of camp. I was all prepped for it. So, with my brother and I packed up in the car…we began on our journey to wherever it was we were going. I saw us pass the exit for Queens as we were driving along the Long Island Expressway.
“Where are we going,” I asked.
“You’ll see,” Esther chirped.
We drove on for what felt like HOURS. We finally pulled up in front of this enormous brown house. Tons of trees and foliage.
I hated it immediately.
“Welcome home,” my mother said.
“What do you mean ‘welcome home’, I asked. “This isn’t HOME!” Now, I’m panicking.
“We just bought this house,” my stepfather said. “isn’t it great?”
Great? I don’t think so.
I ran away from home THAT weekend, right back into Queens, sobbing into the arms of my friends. I stayed at several different houses throughout the week of any friend who would have me. I missed the first week of school in Long Island. I didn’t care. There was no way I was going back there. No. Freaking. Way.
Well, with police intervention, I was returned to my parents house. I started school in Long Island, but never fit in there. Sure, I made a couple of friends, but my heart was always deeply embedded in Queens. I went back there every weekend that I could. I had friends from Queens come out to this mansion I was living in. They started calling me a “richie”, which was someone who had money. We didn’t have money…but the house I lived in sure as hell looked like we did.
Eventually, those ties tapered off…
Years later, my kindergarten friend, Abby, tracked me down on Classmates.com. We picked up right where we had left off some 20 years earlier. Then, along came Facebook, getting me deeper in contact with all my friends from Queens. We have been laughing and talking online for months. All of this leading up to my reunion this past weekend.
I haven’t seen these people in 28 years…since I was torn away from them, kicking and screaming all the while.
It was bizarre to see most of them. Everyone aged, sure. The men got bald, the women got chunky and had lines on their beautiful faces…but for the most part, no personalities had changed. We meshed right back into our old fun and games like no time passed at all. The reunion was a blast. So much laughing, talking and drinking going on (not me though…I stayed sober). We had an “after party” at a local restaurant that we stayed at until 5am.
Now that it’s over, I wish it never ended. I got back on a plane to Florida in tears, the same way I left them 28 years ago. I hope I don’t have to wait another 28 years before I see these people again. It would break my heart. These are my true friends. I couldn’t believe the fond memories they had of me during certain times of their lives. It was great to reminisce about the old days. All we did was laugh and laugh to the point where we couldn’t breathe any longer.
It was simply and without question, the most amazing time of my life.