The night before Thanksgiving smacked of high expectations, shiny lip balm, repressed memories and self fulfilling prophecies.
Last night was different. Steve was in from California and insisted on bringing Graham out. I made Mike leave New Paltz to come home. We four converged at the little town bar nestled across from the driving range in the small forest clearing with mountain views. The ramshackle little house with a large open patio and weathered white siding was lit up from the country road with the lights of the jukebox playing Lynard Skyard and the only slightly aged faces of its former high school crowd.
We ordered pints and perched on barstools at one of the two hightops. Steve let his facial hair take over, another way he could thumb conformist society, and donned his usual plaid, wholy unaware of its surge in sales at Urban Outfitters earlier this year. Graham was also hairy, with a cap pushed down over his head and wire glasses that were too small for his face. Mike’s facial fuzz was light. His sweater smelled like clean laundry. Liz used to joke in high school that the moment you stepped onto Mike’s lawn, you could smell the Downy. It was true. He was a big guy that always did smell like fabric softener.
I grabbed Steve’s hips for a hug, and then Graham. They sandwiched me in an embrace, my five-foot-three frame covered by their six-three height. “No wonder I’m only attracted to tall guys,” I laughed, as Graham kneeled down for a better hug and rubbed my nose.
Erica and her under age sister showed up, but this wasn’t the place to notice, card, or care. I texted Danny and Mike called Russell. Joe, Frank, and Dan trickled in with their girlfriends, and then Danny came with Peter and Billy in tow. Tim, who had been the senior class president, shook hands with the guys and politely kissed me on the cheek, before introducing his girlfriend. Kaufman finally arrived with his new fiancee, who showed off her ring. Russell and his girlfriend entered through the back, and then Chris, and even Ed, who had only stopped by to pay last night’s bar tab.
We sang along to Journey first, AC/DC, and finally, Oasis. Russel cornered me about his girlfriend not having sex with him for the last six months. Danny wanted to see me tomorrow. Erica would come to the city next week, she promised, and wanted to meet up for lunch. Graham danced with Steve and everyone called Frank gay. His girlfriend Ally laughed and tossed napkins at him.
Everyone came and went. Even Steve and Graham had to go eventually.
Mike and I laid cash on the bar and drove back to the neighborhood. We drank scotch and got high and looked at the stars.
This was the night of memories I wanted, and this was the one I got.