Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Circle of Life

I thought I had ended my writing about my experience with Eddie, but I realized on a recent trip that I had one more piece of the story to tell.  I attended a reunion a few weeks ago with some friends from junior college that I hadn't seen in over 20 years.  Eddie and I met in college, so I knew the weekend would bring back many memories.  All of the friends I was going to see had not only known Eddie but had also known the two of us as a couple.  Most of us met on Friday night for a wonderful dinner prepared by our friend Jenny. One of the first things I saw upon entering her house was an SGC yearbook lying on the table.  After all of the hellos and hugs were taken care of I was of course drawn to the book.  As I opened it and saw the baseball pictures of Eddie I was reminded of when and how we met...

We were beginning our second year at South Georgia Junior College in Douglas, Georgia.  We both went back a few days before the fall quarter began to serve as peer counselors for incoming freshmen.  Eddie had had knee surgery over the summer and was walking on crutches.  On one of the first evenings back a group of us decided to go to a restaurant across the street from the college.  It was one of those steak places where you go through a line to order then carry your tray to the table.  I hadn't actually met him at the time, but I ended up in line behind Eddie.  Since he was on crutches and couldn't carry a tray I told him to put his things on mine.  I carried the tray to a table where we naturally sat together and began talking.  Little did we know this would be the beginning of a 29 year relationship. 

Our reunion continued on Saturday with a delicious brunch at our friend Janie's house.  Although we spent a great deal of time catching up on each other's lives, the talk always seemed to turn back to our college days.  Everyone had some story they wanted to tell, and almost every conversation began with "do you remember the time...?"  (I have to say a thank you here to my friend Nancy who kept asking me if I was OK and whether we needed to change the conversation.  She was obviously concerned about how I was handling it all.)  We went back to Jenny's house after brunch and spent the afternoon looking at pictures that thankfully Regina had taken, kept, and remembered to bring after all these years.  As I looked at all of the pictures I was taken back in time to each of the events - dances, parties, trips to the beach, hanging out in the dorms.  Some things I remembered vividly, and others I had almost completely forgotten.  The funniest of all was the beach picture my friend Sue and I looked at over and over trying our best to figure out who the people in the picture were ... after several minutes we realized IT WAS US ... Sue with her boyfriend David and me with Eddie.

Saturday night was the "main event" of the reunion.  We had dinner at the Fern Bank which is amazingly in the same place with the same name as when we were in college.  It's now a sports bar/restaurant, but 30 years ago it was THE place to hang out for the college students.  It looks completely different now, but that night I could picture it just as it was back then.  I could remember the music we listened to, who was there, where we danced, where we sat, what we drank, the conversations we had in the bathroom - everything.  The common phrase that kept being repeated that night was "if these walls could talk!"

Sunday morning came all too quickly, and it was suddenly time to leave my friends and head back home.  As I was pulling out of Janie's neighborhood something told me to turn in the opposite direction of what I should have.  I suddenly knew there was one last thing I needed to do before leaving Douglas - I had to go to the college.  As I turned into the gates of SGC I was overwhelmed with the memories and emotions of 30 years ago.  Of course the campus has changed over the years.  Some of the old buildings are gone and new ones are in their place.  But some things were the same.  I could see what used to be the athletic dorm and knew exactly which room had been Eddie's. 

As I drove through the campus, I knew where I was headed - to the baseball field.  It's been updated quite a bit, but it was in the same location.  I stopped the car, got out, and walked to the field.  When I saw the sign it dawned on me that Trey had never seen where his daddy first played college ball.  I felt this was something important for him to know, so I took pictures of the sign and the field and sent them to Trey from my phone.  Then I walked out onto the field.  It was completely silent, and I could feel a light breeze blowing.  I could see the team on the field as they were 30 years ago, and I felt as though Eddie was there with me.  I stood there for several minutes just looking around and remembering.  Then I blew a kiss toward center field, said a quiet good-bye, and walked to the car.  I left knowing going back to the college had been the right thing to do.  I had completed my circle with Eddie by returning to where it had all begun. 

"Some of us fall by the wayside, and some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles, and some have to live with the scars.
There's far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found.
But the sun rollin' high through the sapphire sky
Keeps the great and small on the endless round.
In the circle of life, it's the wheel of fortune.
It's the leap by faith. It's the band of hope.
Till, we find our place on the path unwinding,
Yea in the circle - the circle of life."

From "The Circle of Life" by Elton John

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