Tonight was one of those bittersweet evenings spent in a hometown.
I came to Ardmore for Landon's graduation (which I made it through with no tears I might add), but it ended up being a reunion of sorts with several people.
First off I walked in and saw all of the Riggle clan, which was to be expected, but before I got too far into the convention center I met up with my middle school, high school, and still best friend Crystal (who used to babysit Landon and was the one that brought him to our Stage Crafts class most of the time we were in high school). We were sat with Lisa's high school choir so that we could be close to the action. The girl sitting next to me, a freshman will be sophomore, asked how we knew Lisa and we admitted that we were alumni. She then asked if we were best friend types that were in choir together or the enemy types. Crystal piped up that we've been best friends since sixth grade. It is hard to believe that almost twenty years have passed since we were stuck in charm school together and were bonded every since. She is now married with two little boys (who are eerily similar to Reece and Landon) and about to start her last year of nursing school. We realized how quickly the time has passed and that we're going to blink and we'll be watching her youngest graduate.
After I hugged the graduate, chatted with Lisa and Randle, and dropped off the graduation gift I headed to the local pizza kitchen to listen to my friend Tyler play. (Side note: my dear cousin was SUPPOSED to meet me there, but he went home to "rest" following two pitchers of margaritas and I guess rested too hard, so I got stood up...BAD cousin!) As I'm sitting there listening to Tyler play and eating pizza alone (real bad cousin) I couldn't help but think of when I first met Tyler. He had just finished his freshman year of high school and played on the tennis team with Haley. It was one of the many summers I kept her and they were living in a house that had a tennis court next door, so Tyler and another friend would come down to play tennis (and maybe because Haley was really pretty) and I got to know him pretty well. He has grown up (way up, he's really tall) to be a great friend and a talented musician.
As Tyler and Meredith were wrapping up (and the restaurant was closing at 10:00...on a Friday...got to love small towns) in walks a darling young lady named Taylor who was headed to the bar next door and happened to see me through the window. Even more memories came flooding back with this one. Starting around fifth grade she was Haley's best friend and lived around the corner. Many days I showed up in the morning and had not one, but two babysitting charges. Taylor has grown up into a beautiful woman with a wonderful husband and and adorable daughter. I met up with them after I talked to Tyler at the new bar next door (kind of forgot I was in Ardmore actually!) and she bought me a glass of wine. Crazy that I'm old enough (by two years) to have my former babysitting charges buying me drinks!
On the way home I was driving a road that I've driven thousands of times before, but memory after memory kept hitting my brain: trig homework at Melissa's, trying to build an airplane at JR's grandparents', pretending a baby doll was a real baby to fool everyone with Lexi, and a million more. I realized just how quickly time is passing. I wouldn't trade my life for anything, but it's amazing how fast the clock is ticking.
As I said to the young lady sitting next to me at graduation, the best is yet to come, but that doesn't mean it won't be hard. High school is wonderful and are memories that I deeply treasure. I also told her to take more pictures than she takes now (she said she took a lot, but I said to take more!). I wish I had more photos from high school, and college, and every part of my life. I still have every memory etched in my brain though.
I probably didn't think thirteen years ago when I graduated that I would be back in Ardmore for Landon's graduation or that I would end up with such a wonderful, adult, friend in Lisa. I didn't think about the fact that as the years pass by the six and eight year age gaps between the kids that I babysat get closer and closer every year. I am thankful that I was able to be a part of these kids' lives when they were kids, but I think I am more thankful that they still put up with me as a friend now.
Time moves faster and faster the older that we get and it is important, in the hustle and bustle of life, to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the people that have shaped the person you have become. All too quickly life can get in the way and years have passed between the times you talk and in our hyper connected world there is no need for that.
BLOG HOMEWORK: call an old friend you haven't talked to in years; go have dinner or a drink with them; I promise you won't be sorry that you did.
Take a picture while you're at it!