Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Trip Home: Seeing friends

As I mentioned yesterday, after seven years, it was time for me to take a trip back to where I grew up. Thankfully, several of my friends still live in the general area and we have stayed connected or have reconnected via Facebook. One of the reasons for the trip, and one of the highlights of the trip, was to get to have a mini-reunion with some of these friends.

Friends since 5th grade

My friend Nicolette and I met in homeroom in the fifth grade. My last name, Ryals, was right before hers, Salerno, on the roll, so we essentially sat next to each other for most of the next eight years in class. We were in the marching band together. We endured some of the same classes and teachers and homework and the joys and heartaches of growing up. After we went to college and got married, we ended up having baby boys just a couple of months apart.

Elizabeth, Nicolette and Ryan

Nicolette, Bill, Ryan and Elizabeth live about three miles from the house where I grew up. Their backyard borders a large park where we'd go for picnics and to play. A block away from their house is an ice cream and confectioners shop where my dad would buy treats to bring home to us on special holidays. It was so cool to be able to stay at their house and to be so close to many familiar things from my childhood.

The house where I grew up

On Sunday while I was there, Nicolette and I drove out to western New Jersey to the home of another friend from high school (and middle school), Deborah. She and her family welcomed us into their home and it was fun to meet her husband and four kids and to sit around their table reminiscing about our years together in the 80s and catching up on what we'd been doing since graduation. I hadn't seen Deb since 1985.

Sue, Me, Deborah, and Nicolette

Also with us on Sunday was Sue, my very first friend in Glen Ridge. We moved there in March of my first grade year, so everyone pretty much had formed friendships and knew each other. Sue and a guy named Sean, came up to me on the playground at Central School and offered to be my friend. I remember that we were pretty much the "three muskateers" for the remainder of elementary school. We drifted apart through the years, but through Facebook, Sue and I reconnected and it's been great to hear about her daughters and to see what life has been for us over the years.

Elaine, Me and Nicolette

One more friend we reconnected with was Elaine, who lives in Brooklyn and is a partner at a large law firm in Manhattan. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge after we visited the 9-11 memorial and got to spend a few hours catching up with Elaine. Again, I hadn't seen her since high school graduation.

There were some other friends who it would have been nice to see, but it didn't work out for this trip. That just means that I'll need to make another trip up there, hopefully sooner than seven years from now!

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