Monday, June 12, 2006

Flashbacks

Last night, sitting outside with a group of longtime friends, the first of our summer biweekly "Porch Nights," and hearing about a daughter who was to start a new job today working for a small company that manages private corporate flights, and talking about how I used to do much of the legal work for a similar company, a subsidiary of the very large transportation company I worked for, and about the contrast between then and now:

I used to be a person who put on a suit and heels and went out to the airport early in the morning, where pilots would open doors for me and say, "Is there anything I can get you, Ms. C?"

When was the last anyone EVER said, "Is there anything I can get you, Ms. C?"

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Paul writes about his son and new daughter-in-law's wedding reception and I remember an autumn day 30 years ago, when I was lifeguarding at the college pool and looking like someone not on the cover of Vogue in one of those ill-fitting navy tank suits that clung to you like loose cellophane, and I looked up to see a bushy head of hair and even scragglier beard as a familiar face appeared in the window of the pool's office, and my years' earlier boarding school roommate's first love ever waved at me cheerfully, and he told me that he had driven down from Vermont to take me out to dinner, and we went to a cafe in Amherst a block or two from the Lord Jeff and talked for hours about the long ago roommate and her current romantic tribulations, which were many and complex, and he asked me to come up to Vermont for the night, and I thought in some detail about what it would be like to spend the night in Vermont with a man when I could remember the night when we were all sixteen and that long ago roommate had told me in oblique but not uncertain terminology that she was sleeping with him and I could also remember about a year later trying to squirm into oblivion under her parents' dinner table as she screamed at them that she might be pregnant, which I was not sure he wanted to talk about because that situation had involved a different young man, but it turned out that he did want to talk about it, and I thought 'We all know entirely too much about each other for me to go to Vermont tonight,' and so I said that I was seeing someone, which was true but wasn't the reason that I said no.

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And of the three of us, the sunnily beautiful roomate with the brilliant mind whose father's plan went something like "Radcliffe Harvard Med Do Not Pass Go Do Not Collect $200," and the handsome young man with the lawyer father and the lawyer brother, and the unlikely girl with the long brown hair and the midwestern accent, I was the one who turned up with a briefcase on a corporate jet another few years later while the other two veered away from college and to the ocean and the mountains, and now I have turned out to be some other person entirely who is still that person who said, "No, I don't want to go to Vermont with you tonight," when I did but I didn't.

5 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

Ah...the memories coaxed by soft summer breezes on a front porch in the evening...

Cynthia said...

We go through so many changes in our life. I sometimes wonder if a former me would recognize themselves in who I am now, yet in so many ways, I still feel the same.

Paul said...

Syntax: the oft overlooked but oh-so-effective rhetorical device. Brilliant.

Jayz, your word verification is "oldmhe". Maybe there is a God, and he's funny as hell.

Vicky said...

Wonderful memory, Robin. Wistful, engaging. Thank you,

Vicky

Carol said...

So appropriate for me as I'm approaching a high school reunion and have been receiving multiple daily e-mails from names I no longer recall and stories that are but a distant memory.
Thanks for helping turn my own memory back on.