The Falling Leaves

One Saturday morning in May, 1991, I sat at my dining room table in Portland, bawling my eyes out.  It had been exactly five years since graduating from college and in between balancing my checkbook and looking at old pictures, I wept.

It was that same sadness I felt in the summer of 1982…the “graduation blues.”

In 1991, I wept for many reasons.  I missed being surrounded by the friends with whom I had shared most of my waking hours.  I missed everyday access to a soft serve ice cream machine.  Mostly, I missed being in the limbo place halfway between childhood and adulthood.  There was no talk of life goals and priorities.  It was “let’s watch General Hospital” and “want to walk down to the Bear’s Den for a coffee?”

And Caroline and Freddie.

Now, more than 25 years later, a small group of us gathered together.  We were “The Women of Androscoggin Hall” or the WOAH.  We found an old yearbook to remember the names and faces we had forgotten and all the things that seemed so vital to our long-ago lives.

“Has it really been 28 years?”

Well, actually, no, it hadn’t been so long.  There had been Shelley’s wedding, down on Admiral Fitch Avenue.  And Audrey’s wedding on one of those hot summer days when everyone was fanning themselves furiously.

Then Sherry got married and we had a bridal shower for her at Shelley’s new “I’m married now” house.  I made a chicken salad with walnuts and tarragon and we cobbled together a big collage of pictures and ephemera and called it “we knew the bride when she used to rock and roll.”

We stayed in touch the best we could with Christmas cards, occasional phone calls, and sometimes a letter.  We were no longer a circle of friends; we were intersecting lines.  It was a geometry problem, with skew lines and triangulation.

There were baby showers and babies.  Then a divorce or two.  We even celebrated one of them on June 17, 1994.  What started out as wine, cheese, and Tarot cards turned into what will forever be remembered as “The O.J. party.”  One of the guests arrived and announced “O.J. Simpson is on the loose on the Los Angeles freeways!”

We threw down the Tarot cards and ran into the living room, circled around the Tee Vee, and watched the white Bronco drive into infamy.  Yes, we knew the bride when she used to rock and roll.

It hadn’t been 28 years.

After the Women of Androscoggin Hall put things carefully into chronological order, we were caught up.  On to the present!

One friend was working at her “dream job,” while another was teaching aerobics part-time.  Martha had traveled around the world, worked as a California kayak instructor before graduate school, and was now back living and working in Downeast Maine.

We had come a long way (baby).

Our lives were good and we had prospered.  Our problems, if we had any at all, were of the “first world” variety.

The day after the gathering was sunny and bright and I ran the vacuum around and put dishes away.  I was unsettled.  I sat on the screen porch, but the afternoon shadows made me chilly.  I pulled a lawn chair out of the shed and sat in my south-facing backyard, wrapped up in a knitted afghan.  The warmth of the sun and the memories were a bittersweet blanket.  We had all come such a long way and yet I sensed we still had such a long way to go.

Falling LeavesThey say the past is another country.  Maybe I was just jet-lagged from my travel there, but in between dozing and contemplation, I wept.

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7 Responses to The Falling Leaves

  1. Loosehead Prop says:

    I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
    It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
    When the sun turns traitor cold
    And shivering trees are standing in a naked row
    I get the urge for going but I never seem to go

    I get the urge for going
    When the meadow grass is turning brown
    Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

    I had me a man in summertime
    He had summer-colored skin
    And not another girl in town
    My darling’s heart could win
    But when the leaves fell trembling down
    Bully winds did rub their faces in the snow
    He got the urge for going And I had to let him go

    He got the urge for going
    When the meadow grass was turning brown
    Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

    The warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
    And all that stays is dying and all that lives is getting out
    See the geese in chevron flight flapping and racing on before the snow
    They’ve got the urge for going, they’ve got the wings to go

    They get the urge for going
    When the meadow grass is turning brown
    Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

    I’ll ply the fire with kindling and pull the blankets to my chin
    And I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in
    I’d like to call back summertime and have her stay jut another month or so
    She’s got the urge for going and I guess she’ll have to go

    And she get the urge for going when meadow grass is turning brown
    All her empires are falling down
    Winter’s closing in

  2. Loosehead Prop says:

    Attribute it to what? I haven’t had a drink since last night.

    I’ll always hear Tom Rush singing it, but apparently some Canadian chick wrote it.

  3. mary martell says:

    Indeed Joni Mitchell’s. How appropriate!

  4. Dani says:

    What a beautiful post! So bittersweet. ‘Reminds me of all the good people in our lives and the incredible memories we made together. Life is a rich tapestry filled with so many layers and patterns.

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