When my family first moved to Richmond in the early '70's, we found ourselves living next-door to the then R-Braves general manager. From that proximity a friendship was born between our two families, and one of the perks of that friendship was the opportunity to go to a lot of R-Braves games. This was back when they played at the rickety, wooden Parker Field, the site where The Diamond now stands, (but perhaps for not much longer. Other proposals mentioned here.) I remember at least one time, as a little kid, the thrill of getting to watch a game from the press box, which was way, way up at the top of the stadium and required walking on a steep, rickety catwalk of sorts to get there, (at least according to my fuzzy childhood memories).
When my friend Ann and I were seniors in high school we discovered we both had a mutual love for our local AAA International League baseball team, and since that time have tried to get to at least one game any summer she's in town. We always have fun at those games, although these days the players look like children and we don't ogle them through binoculars anymore, but spend more time catching up with each other and missing most of what's happening on the field. Last night was no different.
Ann was in town for various family events including a couple of nephews' graduations, her dad's 85th birthday and Father's Day, so she was at the game with various and sundry siblings, in-laws and kids. It's always that way when Ann visits -- I'm often invited to a big family gathering of some sort, with a "the more, the merrier" attitude. One Christmas they invited me along on one of those limo rides to see all the "tacky Christmas lights" around town. The kids were more interested in watching the limo's television set. Five years ago Ann's family had a big to-do for her dad's 80th birthday and asked me to attend and be the photographer, of sorts. As usual, that was a lot of fun.
Old friends: Kathy and Ann
Last night we were also joined by another high school friend, Kathy, and her husband and two of their four boys. Kathy lives in very rural Powhatan, almost in Cumberland, and is currently a stay-at-home-mom, so I rarely get to see her, so it was great to catch up. She's living my fantasy country life, raising chickens, next to neighbors on all sides who raise cows, sheep, goats, etc. That idyllic lifestyle always makes this city girl think about a making a move. One of these days, perhaps....
As an extra treat, the three of us were able to go out together after the game and spend some more time catching up, gossiping on the latest about fellow high school alums, and fretting about our aging parents. Wow, we're getting old. But damn if neither Kathy nor Ann look a day older than high school. I can't say the same for myself, unfortunately, but, it's funny -- the older and uglier I get, the more comfortable I am in my skin. My looks don't matter much to me anymore, (thank goodness, or I'd be sorely disappointed).
After the game was over, it took us close to thirty minutes to coordinate getting to our cars and figuring out where to go afterwards. When we were finally on our way, caravanning towards the Ruby Tuesday's on Broad, we drove past a seedy-looking Tattoo parlor.
Since Ann was and is one of the laugh-out-loud, fast-on-her-feet funniest people I've ever met, and since we both see the ridiculous humor in things, I decided to call her as we drove past the Tattoo parlor and say , "hey, let's get tattoos!" When I called her, I hit the redial button on my phone, but forgot that the last person I had called was my brother, so, when my sister-in-law Jenny answered, I thought she was Ann, and started saying, "hey, let's get tattoos!". Jenny was a little confused as to why the heck I was calling her about tattoos, and must have thought I was crazy, so she hung up on me, and at that point, I realized what happened and called Ann immediately afterwards, and we got an even bigger laugh over that snafu. Doesn't read so funny today, but we were highly amused last night. And no, there were no actual tattoos involved in the evening's events.
But what a wonderful couple of hours we had, sitting and chatting and talking about the things that are important in our lives. Neither Ann or Kathy are knitters, but I confessed that I had learned to knit in the past year and was really loving it, and they did not greet that information with the scorn I usually expect, but rather with congenial support and admiration. Kathy is learning the violin and spoke of how much that new interest means to her. Ann shared interesting stories about her mother who died when we were in high school. We all reminisced about shared experiences from our youth -- the crazy times we had at the beach together; the time Ann ran up and hugged Senator Warner, (back when he was married to Elizabeth Taylor), when he visited JMU and I took a picture of it for our photojournalism class. The guy we knew in high school who after a stint in the Marines, literally ran away and joined the circus. Old friends, old boyfriends, previous husbands, dead classmates and acquaintances. Time marches on.
We left that evening, well after midnight, glowing from a wonderful time shared and with exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and promises to keep in better touch. I sure hope we're able to do so, because I've truly missed these old friends!