The phone didn’t even ring – straight to voicemail. I tried another number, got a few rings, but then voicemail. I dialed an old land-line number I thought might have belonged to Jon Deer’s parents, hoping that it hadn’t changed in the past 14 years. I still remembered it not because I am a phone number Rain Man of sorts, but because it was a number I knew back before I had a cell phone. It’s funny how I remember my best friend’s parents numbers from the late 90’s, but I don’t even know my brother’s current cell. In this case, it didn’t work though – the number had been disconnected. No one keeps their land-lines anymore.
I kept driving. Freaking dirt roads all look the same to me. Except, I knew this one wasn’t right. I was looking for a big red barn.
As if on cue, my cell rang – it was Jon Deer.
I picked up, “I don’t want to say I’m lost….I mean….I am in Monument, after all. I just think I might not be on your street. Can I just tell you how I think I need to go to your house and you can tell me if that is right?”
Jon Deer responded with uncontrollable laughter. He managed between giggle fits to just ask me where I was. He knew I hated it when I was “lost.” Even though I really wasn’t lost.
I told him how I thought I was supposed to get to his house anyway. And then I told him where I was.
I was so close – and so far. I’d missed ONE crucial turn. Well, really just turned the wrong way on the right street. Still, Jon Deer was able to direct me from the Mount Herman Trailhead to his house. I stayed on the phone with him the whole time, knowing that by the time I got to the paved road and my one turn, I wouldn’t remember if it was a right or left turn. I cracked jokes about him living in the sticks. I said I needed to put my Jeep in 4WD to get up a hill. He told me to knock off the drama. Then, he said he could see my Jeep and that’s when I saw the big red barn. I was there.
Everyone met me on the front porch because that’s what old friends do at a party.
I handed over my store-bought blueberry pie and a six pack of Blue Moons. “Happy 4th of July. Sorry I didn’t bake my pie, we had a typical Dixon Family meltdown today, so I just bought it.” No further explanation was needed. My family’s meltdown stories have been entertaining my friends for years.
I said hi to old friends and introduced myself to new ones – who really were not my friends yet, but I feel like they could be now. I recognized Aaron’s wife from his Facebook page. I told her that and then asked her if I sounded stalkerish. She politely smiled and shook her head, but looked a little nervous at my outburst, so I didn’t mention anything about how much I liked her new haircut. Didn’t want to confirm my stalker status, ya know.
Then, I announced that I was starving. They were just about to throw the burgers on the grill, so I only had time to eat three chocolate chip cookies before dinner was ready. We stood around in the kitchen eating burgers and hot dogs and chips and dip and cookies. I didn’t want to dirty a plate, so I just ate one thing at a time with my hands and stood really close to all the food.
There is something so comfortable about old high school friends – the traits they have and easy laughter that stay the same as you stroll down memory lane:
Remember when I was banned from your house because I broke a ceiling fan and your little brother’s razor scooter?
Oh, you were not banned from the house for real, my parents were joking. It’s just they had great poker faces, no one knew when they were joking.
Yeah, I actually never went back to your house after that…
Yeah, well, you did break a ceiling fan because you threw Angie into it…
Remember that time I got attacked by a dead hamster?
We moved to the sitting room. There were no fireworks tonight because of the wildfire danger in Colorado. I was happy to hear a still silence on the cool breeze. People were taking it seriously this year – no jokers were even lighting off cherry bombs in their back yards. The fires had come within 5 miles of Jon Deer’s house. After seeing the destruction in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, no one in Monument was going to risk losing everything for some pretty lights in the sky.
I talked too fast and too much. Not in the nervous way, but in the “I just have so much to tell you and ask you about and laugh about that I’m going to talk just a little too much as always because I’ve always been the talker in the group so I feel like the spotlight is still on me and that is a lot of pressure, but I’m happy to tell funny stories and laugh and maybe cross into the socially awkward talking too much zone once or twice or….well a lot” way.
We talked about everything we’d have to do this summer – since several of us are unemployed and living with our parents….might as well carpe summer vacation – a luxury few adults have.
When the topic of camping came up, I said I’d love to go, but I didn’t have any camping stuff, so I’d need to borrow it. They said they had me covered. I smiled and offered to bring the entertainment.
When I realized how that sounded, coming from the only single girl in the room, I thought I could clarify by saying I’d bring good stories and a guitar and stuff to make s’mores – not like tassels or hookers or anything.
I don’t wanna jinx it, but I think it is going to be a great summer.