I just got back from a 1975-1979 Hayfield High School class reunion in Alexandria or Springfield or Woodbridge or Lorton, (there’s more!) Virginia. It’s Northern Virginia, which is the D.C. metro area. Whew! The area is so stressful but amazing and rich with American history. I cannot even believe I lived there but I did and am grateful for it. Most are surprised to hear I didn’t go to high school in Oklahoma City. Most of the time it goes like this: ‘are you from here?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Where did you go to high school?’ ‘Virginia/D.C. area…’ and then it goes on. Sometimes I made it sound like perhaps I was “sent away” to another school for “reasons” but I’m not a good liar. So long story short:
- Dad found a better job in Raleigh, North Carolina and moved mom, my sister Janet and me from Oklahoma City in the early 1970s where I went to 6th-9th grade.
- Mom and dad eventually divorced and I was devastated (although I know now it was the right thing). I became a sad, ugly, bullied girl.
- Mom decided to move she and I up to Northern Virginia in 1976. I told her I would be excited for the change and that I wanted a new me. She agreed!
- It was a magical time. I got hooked into a crowd that loved music; played music – many of the guys played guitars and that made them gawds; drove great cars, had keggers in a place called the pits. Farrah winged-hair styles. Disco. Rock n’ Roll. Concerts. Fast cars. Beauty school. Beaches. The area was amazing being next to D.C. I had dates in Georgetown. Saw things I shouldn’t have. It was the gas shortage of the late 1970s. It was where I learned to drive. It truly changed me from the shy, sad lonely girl I was.
- I graduated in 1979 and at the urging of my older brother, who was living back in Oklahoma City after his own stint in the Navy, convinced mom and I that my opportunities were better back in OKC vs. the D.C. area. He was right on target with that. I’ve been back ever since.
The experience of living in two other states at a young age was a good one. It really made me appreciate Oklahoma and OKC. I have no doubt this is where I should be. I see others who’ve never left Oklahoma or their birth states. They have that longing what if look. I say go! Maybe that was what mom was thinking when she moved us up to Virginia.
Mom died in January 2005 at my house in Oklahoma City. We split her ashes into quarters for the four siblings. My older brother and sister released theirs immediately in February 2005 at Camp Cimarron‘s Inspiration Point. It was beautiful and moving. My sister Janet released hers in the ground for a new tree to represent mom’s love of the garden. I’ve been holding on to my portion until…last Friday. I released them in the Occoquan River by Lorton, Virginia with the help of my best buddies Cathy Crump and Sally Walnetski and her husband Kenny.
We had just eaten a ton of Maryland blue crabs at a place called Water’s Edge. We made our way out to the edge of a pier close by. I sat with my freshly manicured feet, from our awesome mani/pedi we’d had that morning, hanging over the edge. Kenny handed me the vase. I said, ‘I wanted to have mom here as a tribute to her and this place she moved me to. I know now how brave it was for her to make this move that changed us forever.’ I then proceeded to release all of the ashes… and then I teared up. Didn’t expect that. I looked up at Cathy and Sally and they too had teared up. They were very close with mom. It was the perfect place to release her.
We took another portion of her ashes and released them on I-95, which is the main highway there. Kenny and Sally released them from their motorcycle while Cathy and I followed behind and took video of it. Mom had a motorcycle she used when living there. Another perfect release! Additionally, the radio station played Magic Man by Heart followed by Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. The two songs we used to dance and sing to so much.
More later on the actual reunion! That’s part 2!