For a long time I hardly thought of Arizona. If I remembered it at all, my memories were mostly weather related. Just the feeling of being uncomfortable--either too hot outside or too cold in the air-conditioned insides of every last place you could go. Thoughts of middle school or high school inevitably brought Phoenix to mind, but I wouldn't say I had any special feelings about the place itself...just the people I knew there.
That's changed in recent years, as I've come to appreciate the beauty of the desert and the joy of having an *anyplace* that held special memories. I've felt a draw to the state in general and Phoenix specifically more and more often of late. I finally came to see that the desert holds its own unique kind of magic and beauty, and I am grateful to every chance I have to immerse myself in it. On our road trip, I even told Nicole that I would like to do a multi-day hike/camping trip in the desert, to which she replied "have fun with that." Eh, maybe not such a good idea, but it sounded romantic at the time.
Anyway, as much as I'd revisited the state in person (which was infrequently) and in my mind's eye (which was often) I'd yet to pay visits to those friends who'd made my time in high school so memorable in the first place. Renee has moved away to Colorado, so I'd have to go there to see her anyway, or time a trip for when she was in AZ visiting her own family. And since Nicole and Kelsi live in CA now too, that pretty much left Karla and Francisco as my dearest friends/former gooftroop partners in upstanding citizenry. Nicole and I decided to make sure a visit with them happened during my brief stay in Phoenix.
Today's New Activity: Ten Year High School Reunion, Five Years Late
Tonight Nika and I met with Francisco, Karla and families at the Tempe Marketplace, where our kiddies could all jump around in an outdoor water thingy and we could try our best to catch up while keeping lookout for territorial clashes, soaking wet diapers (as I realized Monkey'd outgrown the swim diapers I brought for him!), and all other manner of toddler disturbance.
How can I put this most plainly?
I came to realize, in that brief 3 hours or so we spent together, that the friends you make in high school are really some of the strongest and best friendships to be found (if you choose well that is, and thankfully all of us were drawn to each other, if only just because there was no other quite-right-fit for our particular brand of silly, innocent, aberrant interests and senses of humor). I couldn't believe how easy it was to fall into conversation as if no time had passed, even though I hadn't seen either Karla or Francisco in close to 15 years.
How on earth did all that time slip slide through our fingers so fast?
And speaking of innocence, I feel like that childlike wonder and intrigue that was a feature of all of our highschool years (even the more rebellious among us...ahem, Kelsi) has remained enough in all of us to keep us young at heart. I swear my friends age better than anybody I know. Though there's a responsible adult and parent in every one of them, and a maturity to their faces that wasn't there before, there is not a jaded, tore up bone in their bodies. And still paramount to all them: laughter and creativity. How can you age with these as your main pasatiempos?
I was very sad that my stay in Phoenix was so short and that I couldn't spend more time catching up with those beautiful people. We have pledged to not let another 15 years pass before we can all get together, and also to make sure Renee is in town the next time around.
Any chance we can start planning that now?
Nicole, Karla and Francisco: I will always love and cherish all of you for bringing so much joy to my life and keeping me on a good, happy path in our youths. I hope all of your lives will be continually blessed and beautiful. And this message is for Kelsi and Renee as well, forever and always.
One more thing: Panocha!!