Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A story about a real Joy.

One of the quirks of living as an adult in the same town where you grew up is getting a dose of nostalgia now and then.  As you drive around town, certain places, certain smells, certain people bring you back to a different time in your life. 

For example, the Sportsmans Warehouse (formerly Gottschalks, and many moons ago an Albertsons grocery store) will forever be Albertsons in my head.  It was the grocery store that was closest to our house growing up....the first place I got to drive to ALONE once I got my license and I was tasked with picking up a gallon of milk at the store. 

Every time I drive by the Burger King on Eureka Way, I remember the time I ate there after a high school football game and my order number was 91.  I was in the class of 1991.  This was a big deal.  Big enough to earn the receipt a permanent spot in my scrap book. 

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

When I drive by a certain Jr. High (that will remain nameless to protect the probably innocent school) I still get a knot in my stomach as I remember the difficult days when I first moved here in the 8th grade.  Breaking into new social circles and making new friends in 8th grade is no picnic.  Ick. 

And there is a certain stretch of road that runs along the edge of town that always makes me think of Joy. 

This road goes from my parents old house to Shasta College where I took some extra summer classes.  It's narrow, has two lanes, no shoulder and some pretty good curves and hills.  I traveled this road daily during the summer after my freshman year of college.  It was the first and last summer I spent at home after moving away to go to school.  I didn't have a job or any other pressing plans for the summer so I came back to the town I had fled shortly after high school graduation.  I think the lure was free room and board.  Actually, I know that must have been it.  Because Lord knows it was not the triple-digit temperatures or the constant supervision of my parents that I was craving at age 18. 

Joy was a high school friend of mine, also home from college for the summer.  The two of us traveled this road together on our evening commute to English class.  Sometimes I sped around the curves in my mom's sporty 1981 Honda Civic.  Other nights it was Joy at the wheel, driving her mom's Subaru (I think?) something.  I'm fairly certain we always took the curves too fast.  Because we were girls who had tasted the freedom of University living, a good four-hours away from any blood relative. And then we come home for summer. 

We drove that road like Luke Duke trying to outrun Boss Hogg.  That short road trip to English class delivered us from the ever-watchful eyes of our parents back onto a college campus, our newly-adopted home turf.

I don't really know why that road always reminds me of Joy and the summer of 1992.  I can't remember what our teacher's name was, or what books we read for that class, but I remember driving that road.  Maybe it has become more nostalgic now that the road is being torn up to make way for a wider road with new bike lanes (and probably more gentle curves). 

Joy and I lost touch after that summer.  She went back to Humboldt.  I returned to San Francisco State.  In the old days before Facebook, cell phones and Wi-Fi on every street corner, it was easier to lose people.  She became one of those friends that I wondered about from time to time...never knowing where she ended up or what she was doing. 

As fate would have it, Joy turned up on Facebook a few years ago.  We became online friends and eventually reunited in person at our 20-year high school reunion.  Aside from a few extra tattoos, she looked the same as I remember. 

Although we lost touch for such a long time, our friendship is a nostalgic one.  And that is a good thing.  Because no matter how anxious we were to pull up roots and get out of town when we were 18, going home and being back where we started always holds unique Joys. 

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