Oh, I know it is far-fetched, but on the weekend of July 10, 2010, I felt like it was completely possible. As my dear friend Pixi Myers and I glided across the miles from Amberg Wisconsin to Deer River Minnesota, the years seemed to vanish.
What caused this feeling? I was on my way to my 50-year high school reunion. I had seen pictures of many of the "kids" from the class, but somehow in my mind they were exactly like they were on that June day in 1960, even though I had not seen a single one of them in those 50 years. Would they recognize me? I had it all figured out that if they didn't, it wasn't because I had changed, but because their eyesight had gotten bad. I don't think it worked, but at least it got a laugh when I said that in my 2-min. speech I was allowed.
Our trip began on Friday morning, and we had been invited to stay with a couple in Deer River whose father (hers, that is) had been a pastor of a church my parents attended many years ago. They were the most wonderful hosts anybody could ever hope for. They also had a Native American fellow living with them who was as zealous and on fire for the Lord as the host couple. What a wonderful time of sharing, bolstering one another up, praying together, offering challenges for future plans in our ministries, we had. It was truly the icing on the cake! We had planned to spend the weekend at a motel, but oh, what we would have missed! So, thank you, Ken, Marvine and Mikey, for making this an even more spectacular weekend. It is truly one I will never forget. I came back as recharged spiritaully as if I had returned to the mission field in Venezuela.
Saturday afternoon was spent at the Forest History Center, where they were holding the annual North Woods Artisans and Authors Day. Have you ever noticed how perfect God's timing is? I could not have made the long trip twice, so having it on the same day was great. The people in charge there were very friendly and helpful. I did sort of chuckle at the fact that they had told me I would be their "feature author." The truth of the matter was that I was the only author; all of the other people there were craftsmen.
From there it was on to the reunion. I intended to start mingling, but old friends, some of them people I didn't recognize until I looked at their nametags, began to congregate around me, one by one, two by two, and the only problem was that everybody was talking at the same time and my ears got a real workout.
I had two "best friends" during those high school days: Virginia Dowling (also in grade school with me in our little one-room schoolhouse in Spring Lake MN) and Loralee Benson (who I didn't meet until we went 36 miles daily--each way--to high school). Loralee sat across from me, and I got a couple of chances to talk to Virginia.
I pondered the people I was talking to. It was like we had all truly entered that time machine. It was almost as if we had been on summer break and it was the first day of a new school year. (Having one of our teachers, Mr. Schomer, there made that seem even more possible.) They talked the same way they always had done. They remembered the same things I remembered. I felt like a teenager again!
And then Loralee burst my bubble when she said, "Look around the room once. It is like we are sitting here looking at a room full of our mothers." And she was right. Upon closer examination, all of the women looked more like our mothers than we looked like ourselves.
I had been asked to bring some of my books along. The committee that organized the whole reunion (and who did a fantastic job) had purchased a copy of my newest book, Rebel With a Cause, as one of the door prizes. It was the first prize offered up. I don't remember who drew the name out of the hat, but whoever it was drew my name. Tom Giles promptly said, "Janet not only can't sell her books, she can't even give them away!" OK, so I laughed along with everybody else, but they could have at least given me the next prize. Later, when I sold quite a few copies of that particular book, I wondered if they were really that interested in what I had done with a part of my life, or if they were afraid they might find their names in the book--and had I painted them in a good light, or not?
On Sunday I spoke at the morning service at the Evangelical Covenant Church in Deer River, where I made more new friends and saw a few old ones from days of yore. I thought Ivan and I were the epitome of an ecumenical couple, but I think their pastor even beat us! He's a Pentecostal Jewish Messianic priest (among other things).
It is impossible to try to ascertain the best part of the trip. Perhaps it was God's hand of protection on us as we traveled--in apite of a 2+ hour detour through Superior and Duluth, seeing all the old friends, the new friends we made, the e-mails I've had since I've gotten back from people who wished (along with me) that we had had way more time to talk, the beautiful scenery, or the extra time I got to spend with Loralee at a cafe because the car needed a bit of body work so we stayed one extra day. At any rate, it was definitely a day to remember.
Thanks to Joeann (nee Lee) and Tom Giles, you can share the fun with me by going to my website (http://www.janetelainesmith.com) and click on the page "Reunion and book tour" or by clicking on the title at the start of this blog post to see the pictures they sent me (plus a couple of extras from the Forest History Center and our host family).
I hope you all have as much fun this summer as I've had--and I hear it's only half way over. I can't wait to see what happens next! Oh, and I sold 80 books, including the 4 books Pixi pretty much sold for me at the restaurant where we had "lupper" (that's between lunch and supper, like "brunch" is between breakfast and lunch). Thanks, Pixi!