So Spake Mo…
Twenty years since we shared the journey of childhood together, since the stories of our lives were so bound up in one another that we gave shape to each other, to
the people we would become. Amidst canyon and sagebrush, in the cradle of a
one-stoplight town, we began.
Twenty years since we set off to become that something more, to create the new people we held in the dreams of our hearts. And in those twenty years, we created
ourselves anew so many times: cashier, engineer, homemaker, soldier, admin,
entrepreneur, artist, manager, teacher. Along this road, in the throes of the journey, we were aided by the wisdom and the folly of hundreds as we retooled our dreams to match reality…or reality to match our dreams.
Twenty years into the journey we return. We come in the guise of middle age, wearing the dust of so long a road, so many selves created and discarded. We come wrapped in the critique and the support of the hundreds we’ve met along the way. But for all their love and advice, they could never truly know all of who we are. They were not there when we began:
Amidst canyon and sagebrush, in the cradle of a one-stoplight town.
Among those who helped shape our original story.
So Spake Me…
There it is. My own personal creation story, my myth. And it is so very startling how archetypal the actors, events, the places of our legends become in just twenty short years. My memories have become aged snapshots, grainy and uncertain in their detail. Only the most vivid of the defining moments remain and as I gaze back at them in my mind, I can’t help but wonder how much of the truth remains after so many retellings.
I wrote Mo’s speech as the welcome piece for the reunion book, looking forward to the reunion, looking at those snapshot memories anew. With the fears of youth set to the side, curiosity rose up in its place. Slowly, steadily my classmates transformed into one hundred and thirty-four books I had never finished and “What happened next?” became the nagging question tugging at my mind every time I stumbled across a Facebook post, an old photo tucked in an worn children’s game, or a dusty yearbook I’d glanced past for years without seeing.
And when the nights came?
The stories were more fascinating than I could have possibly expected. Probably because they mattered to me. These people, I knew how hard they had to work, how far they had to climb to get where they were now. And the peaks they had conquered! Business owners, Air Force pilots, PhDs, researchers, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, flying high in the big city, settling cozy in the small towns, even planting roots in our own hometown to keep her thriving.
So many stories. Each story so new and yet so familiar. So many glimpses at the archetype I had become in my classmates’ own legends—the girl I had once been seen from new eyes. Each glimpse so surprising and so sweet.
And when the nights were over?
I left with a bit of sorrow at the stories left unheard, at the renewed connections I knew would fade once more. I left missing my people.
But I also left happy.
I am so proud of the people I come from, how they have grown no matter what path they chose.
When these images, too, become faded with age, the details blurred and uncertain, I hope I can still draw from my myth, from my memory, this timeless truth: I come from good people. Good people who are still out there in the world spinning their fascinating stories and sometime soon perhaps I will get to hear more.
And that brings me the profoundest comfort.
The Story of Place