Jersey girls soaking in the desert!
I felt nervous, all those high school feelings returned. I am sure you know the ones. Maybe you don’t. I felt anxious, I had questions in my mind that I don’t have much anymore. Will they like me? God, do I look old? What will they be like? Will I be able to talk? Will they think everything I do and say is weird. Growing up in New Jersey, I was kind of the weird kid. I was known as, “The kid who had no television.” I was quiet and pretty shy in High School. I think. You know, I don’t really know how I was. And I sure didn’t ask. Not sure I would even want to know. Definitely quite unenlightened!
We sat on the stairs, leaned against the vigas waiting for the thunder-storm to pass. Monsoon season is here, but soaking at Ojo Caliente during a lightning storm is not allowed. Greg, the young manager at Ojo apologetically explained, “Someone died in one of the indoor bathtubs – over there, in the bathhouse. Did you see Liz- the older woman manager? She was the one who found him and tried to resuscitate. It didn’t work.” We couldn’t even go into the steam room during the storm.
We pondered that for a while and then headed back to Casita 19.
Four girls from High School were visiting. I just cannot call them women! I remember them all from 6th grade on. When I was the new kid with the big front teeth and a bit of a gap too. I had hair that wouldn’t feather, no. matter. what. Never. But they are women now – and beautiful ones.
Doreen with her big, big smile. It dominates her face, almost her whole body. She is still tiny, just how I remember her in High School. Welcoming with sweet sounds of encouragement given to each and every one of us as we shared stories. She was the one who shared her “Gone with the Wind” book with me in sixth grade. She was my lab partner and we took turns reading during our science class. We sat in the back and we never got caught. (I did get caught in Trigonometry with Ms. Giordano though.) We watched the movie at her house, she had made chocolate lollipops. I was smitten.
Kathy – she looked exactly as she did in HS. Not a line in her open face, and sad, but kind eyes. I felt that she had some deep sadness about her, and I don’t know if she does. Maybe it was just a softness, so often not in Jersey Girls. She seemed to be a gentle person. I didn’t know her well in high school at all, wish I had.
Megan! Megan….has been reading my blog for a while – she is frequent supporter and sweet commentator. (I love her comments and wish she had her own blog.) I think she has the energy for it and the work she does is fascinating. Her own life’s work would be content enough for a blog. I could have sat with her all evening, never even entering the pools to soak. She met me as I pulled into the parking spot. Kiersten! She called out, laughing. Her voice raspy from a cough and I could tell she was still a smoker. Her immensely curly hair was pulled back tightly and she was wrapped in a towel. I was happy to see her! She had just had a massage and was feeling loopy and happy and well. I’m glad she splurged! It was so worth it. She made a thick and strong coffee in the tiny coffee maker, and we chatted. I could have listened forever. She is animated, happy, and boisterously insightful! So fun.
And Stacy. When they told me Stacy was also coming, I couldn’t remember who she was. I friended her on Facebook just so I could snoop and try to remember her before “meeting” her again. But I knew her! She was a Jersey girl through and through. The kind you think of when you think of the Shore. Dark sunglasses, styled hair, I think her flip-flops had some kind of heel. Actually she looks EXACTLY like Laura San Giacomo. For some reason, last night, I said Gina Davis. She could be Laura. Her Jersey accent was pheNOMENal. I loved it. I wanted to listen to her the entire night. She laughed loudly, she told stories around the fire that evening that made my cheeks hurt from laughing. Well, I guess they weren’t stories – they were recipes involving Heinz Chile sauce, grape jelly, meatballs and a crock pot. And she was SERIOUS. Marshmallow fluff was another ingredient. Authentic New Jersey. And she could pull it off! But the funny thing was, she was so familiar. I kept sneaking glances at her, cause I knew we had bonded at some point in school. We had hung out together. I can’t stop picturing her in a cross-country outfit. Tank top and shorts. Orange. But the others just laughed semi-hysterically at the suggestion that she may have run cross-country. So that wasn’t it. Anyway.
I hadn’t seen these women in 25 years. Not since High School graduation. I had no idea what we would talk about. But, you know, the conversation flowed as if it had never stopped. Not that it had ever started in High School, these weren’t friends of mine. I wasn’t a member of a big group at all. I had some individual friends, boyfriends once in a while – mostly not. I devoted most of my time to track and cross-country. I don’t have all the crazy memories many do from that time period.
So – that was a super fun experience. I hope those Jersey girls visit this weird girl in the High Desert again soon….. (Kaya says, “Weird is such a strong word Mom, I don’t think you are weird.” I will try to explain to her that in New Jersey, I might be!)