It’s been almost two years since I moved back to the county where I grew up. I left the state, but not the region for a few years. I now live in the state capital, not the nearby smaller community where I lived as a child.
It’s good to be home. Still, it’s a little strange running into to people from my past all the time. And I do mean ALL THE TIME. They’re everywhere. It’s like they live here or something. They’re a constant reminder of the awkward, shy girl I was in high school and they always make for uncomfortable small talk.
Here are a couple awkward encounters I’ve had:
*The babysitter – I hadn’t had a sip all night. Actually, I was purposefully avoiding alcohol, even though a show at a bar put me in arm’s length of it all that night. I didn’t need the calories, for one thing. But when a cute friend suggested we take a shot together, I caved. (Did I mention he’s cute?). So it would be the exact moment he handed me the tiny glass filled with fruity liquor that a woman with long dark blond hair and a vaguely familiar face approached me.
“Are you Lori?” she said. I assumed we knew each other from my day job, which puts me in contact with lots of people. Or from the stage where I’ve been singing lately with a couple friends.
“Yes,” I said, smiling.
“I used to baby sit you at church,” she replied.
Yes, she did. I remembered then. She helped supervise in children’s church when I was a small thing. I remember her as the infinitely cool, but tyrannical teenager with long blond hair and an attitude. I’m sure she remembered me as the home-schooled little girl with a homemade dress and a sparkly purple and yellow kids’ Bible.
Now, there we were, 20 years later and just 10 miles up the road from the teetotaling congregation where we grew up. My, how things change.
“Cheers,” I said, clinking my coconut rum shot glass against her Magic Hat bottle. At least she wasn’t drinking grape juice.
“Buy you another?” I should have said.
*”Do you want to dance?” There’s a bar here in town where you can find me nearly every week. One Thursday evening I noticed a somewhat familiar face in the crowd. I couldn’t place him. Thought maybe I’d graduated with him but when he approached me I found out otherwise.
“You may remember me from Husson’s Pizza. I hung out there from 2000 to 2003,” he said. I did not, in fact, remember him. But his thick, rural Appalachian accent took me right back to my hometown. (Sounds a little like this guy).
“Oh, OK. Hi!” I said.
I later turned down the offer to smoke pot with him and his repeated, repeated requests that we dance to “Sweet Caroline,” which was blaring over the bar speakers. (No one else was dancing, I might add).
In that moment, in a way that’s difficult to explain, it was like my entire hometown was hitting on me.