I am amazed that the 2016-17 school year will mark the 20th year since I graduated high school. I’m not real sure if anyone else feels the same as me….but that’s just CRAZINESS!!! There is no way that it’s been 20 years since I graduated high school!
Today, I was reminded that yep…it has in fact been that long. Ugh. Sigh. Weep. Wail.
I went to school at a small…and I do mean small…high school in Millport, Alabama. There were 42 people in my graduating class. It was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone and NO ONE got away with anything. If you drove through town too fast it was reported to your Mama by somebody else’s Mama who was pumping gas and saw you before you got home. Y’all know that’s true! We…mostly me….could not get away with anything if we wanted to.
I guess you could say that for the most part, everyone at my school was close. We really didn’t have a choice. It was be close or leave town…either way you still saw the same people in every class and at lunch everyday. New kids didn’t stay new long around that joint. The lunchroom ladies take it as a personal offense if they can’t call each kid by name as they come through the line. And, not only do they know each kid…they know which team the kid pulls for. Alabama, Auburn, or Mississippi State. That’s the only choices a kid has around those parts. We don’t really acknowledge any other teams. Sorry (well…not sorry).
Anyway, our school counselor set up a student exchange program with a school in Fredericksburg, IA a few years before my senior year. The program was designed to show us small town rednecks from the South how small town rednecks from the North lived and vice versa. The program took place every other year so that Juniors and Seniors could participate if they met the requirements. Basically, half of our high school left town every other year to live with assigned families in a small, frozen Iowa town during the middle of January. Then, in April those poor frozen kids from up North came down South to thaw out. It. Was. AWESOME!
I remember meeting Carrie at the airport in Cedar Rapids. She was surrounded by all of the other Iowa kids and didn’t seem real sure about this country girl who loved fishing and hunting!! LOL…she just knew they had given her the wrong person as her “match”. Little did she (or I) know how much we would come to love one another!
I spent a week living in her home with her mom (Lorraine), dad (Ray), and brother (Kyle). We had so much fun! The whole experience was fantastic and I hated to leave when they told us to load up for the trip home.
Carrie is a crier…like major crier. Bless her heart…she bawled her eyes out that day! Honestly, we all did! I had promised her and the rest of her family that I would come back to visit one day. Twenty years later I made good on that promise!
I was so happy to know that I was going to get to spend some time with her today. When we planned our road trip last fall, I told Uncle Jimmy that if we crossed the Iowa state line at any point on the trip I had to see Carrie. He planned it so that we passed right by her house on our way North. My Uncle Jimbo is pretty awesome!
When we arrived, Carrie and her boyfriend Dewand had fixed us a great lunch of grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs. We also had grilled potatoes, baked beans, and her grandmother’s cookies!!!! Oh yeah…food fit for a king!
I wasn’t sure, but I had hoped that the rest of the family might be there as well…and they were!! It was so much fun introducing my girls to my Iowa family and remembering the great times we had all those years ago. We played corn hole, took pictures from every direction, and laughed a whole lot. Ray is the Fire Chief in Fredericksburg and he brought us patches and coozies to take home. Yes, I love that little “coincidence”. The whole family also brought me Alabama balloons from the National Championship game in January. Yes…they are just that awesome!!
Carrie has made the trip South several times over the years, but the last time I saw her was two weeks before my wedding…which would have been the end of June, 1999. I had forgotten exactly when it was that she and Natalie (another exchange student friend) came to visit the last time. That was 17 years ago! I am telling you one thing…time flies people. Time….FLIES!!!
One thing I learned today…no matter how much times passes between visits…family is always family and friends are always friends. I loved my Iowa experience and I continue to love my Iowa family. I refuse to let twenty years pass by before our next visit and that’s a fact!
Day 2 of the 2016 road trip was wonderful and definitely a day we won’t forget anytime soon! There is just no telling what Day 3 will bring! One thing I do know…I LOVE having friends scattered all over the country!! If I have friends in South Dakota…I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be in your neck of the woods soon!