Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I'm getting ready to host a sleepover this weekend. Remember when we were kids and the big thrill of the weekend was to be allowed to spend the night at a friend's? We'd lie awake for hours talking and giggling under the covers, shushing temporarily when the parents got annoyed and told us to be quiet. One time my friend Marla and I put on her sister's bras and stuffed them with socks and ran around Marla's house shrieking hysterically at our daring.

This sleepover is for five of us who graduated from McEwen High School in eastern Oregon in 1959. We weren't very close then, but in our tiny town everyone knew everyone else rather well, and we have known each other since 1952. In recent years, our small graduating class (only 18 of us) began to diminish, as classmates died too soon, and we five decided to stay in contact. We email almost daily about the events of our lives and we have been meeting at least once a year for a sleepover at someone's house.

This weekend, we are all converging here at Cottontail Acres for three days of sightseeing, shopping, cooking, eating, drinking, and reminiscing. Diann is coming from California, Bonnie from Portland, Mary Alice from Pendleton, and Judy from White Salmon. We will cram all we can into the time we have and when they go home on Monday, we will have relived our lives in Athena, calling up memories of former teachers, classmates, scandals, gossip, deaths, births, and all the trivia that makes life so satisfying.

If you had told me in the 60s that in the new century, I would consider these women some of my best friends, I would have scoffed. We five occupied different realms, even in our small town. I was the Baptist preacher's kid who couldn't dance, drink, go to movies, or play cards. They were daring and did everything I couldn't do. Ironically, they are all still married to their first husbands, while I, the goody-two-shoes, have been divorced for 26 years. And we all have avoided the typical small-town conservatism that generally infects rural areas; they are as open-minded as anyone else I know.

It's a lovely place to be, maintaining a friendship with women who "knew me when". We mourn together the losses of our conjoined lives: our parents, babies who didn't make it, children gone astray, the friends who now are gone---Donna, Audrea, Marilyn, Dorn, Harold, and more. We laugh over the antics recalled; three years ago, we met in Pendleton and played softball as "Donna's Team", when our late friend Donna's grandson needed financial support to beat leukemia.

What an experience! The video that Marilyn's husband made is priceless, capturing all the foolishness of 60 year old women trying to catch fly balls and run the bases. Marilyn was alive then and it's wonderful to see her grin, which helps to wipe out the memory of seeing her comatose in a hospital bed a few months ago. And my son Mike came with us to Pendleton; his long, chestnut hair flying in the wind and his smart mouth almost got him in trouble in cowboy country, but it sure made us laugh. What memories!

They'll be here Friday. I can't wait!

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