The Beach Divas: Eileen, Des, Mary, Mary Anne, Sue, Anne Marie, Karen, Linda
I had a vision last weekend.
“Oh, oh! Time to go” announced Anne Marie guiding me to the car. Ever vigilant, she saw my eyes well up as I took in the stunning aqueduct-style architecture that now made up the façade of my old high school.
In our day, it was but four non-descript two-story buildings with one flat-roofed bunker in between. Now, with time and the support of alumni dollars, it was palatial.
This high school was no longer a non-air-conditioned geometric collection of shoeboxes squatting in a Florida sticker patch.
My vision that night was some kind of time machine revelation; a wavy broadcast special dissolve effect that kept shaving away the renovations. My vision melted the new expensive trappings like some crazy dripping Dali painting and left only the pure depiction of the original school, as I knew it during the day. I saw us walking those open air loggias changing classes, laughing.
My fevered misfiring chardonnay-addled brain was wrinkling time for me.
I love my brain for giving me these wrinkles as I grow older.
I love my brain because sometimes the time wrinkling folds pieces in, hiding memories that do not move me to tears. They move me someplace else entirely…Another tale for another day.
Here’s how all this happened: Seven of us 50-something gal pals, fueled by cocktails and the urge to relive some of the mischief we all got into when were kids, crashed the 50th Anniversary Celebration of our private Catholic high school alma mater in Fort Lauderdale.
Actually we met up for another beach weekend using this milestone as an excuse to get together again to eat, drink, reminisce, bob around in the ocean, nap next to the pool and laugh our collective selves silly.
None of us really wanted to go to the formal activities planned to mark the 50th Anniversary of our high school. The answer to the question ‘why?’ to any one of us was a shrug and a smile all weekend. Too crowded, might not remember anybody, don’t have anything to wear…
“Maybe I am seeing the people I wanted to see right here!” ventured Anne Marie as we sat for hours on the beach enjoying a day of perfect sun, clear water and delicious food and drinks leftover from dinner by Des the night before. Des loves to spoil her guests.
But that night the overwhelming urge to leave our mark on the 50th party eclipsed any age-appropriate behavior. We reverted to our 17 year old selves and devised a plan. We piled into two cars and drove right on in to the high school compound just about five minutes before the big event was to end.
The plan was simple.
It was supposed to be a “drive-by prank,” just like the old days when some of us cruised the crowded parking lot and mooned everyone loitering around the gym after a basketball game. The priests interrogated witnesses relentlessly for days after that to see if anyone would crack and roll-over on our fellow culprits, but no one caved.
It was supposed to be a quick rolling incident with an easy escape just like the time when some of us armed ourselves with eggs, removed our tops and drove around pelting anyone who dared look…Well, maybe that yarn goes against our “code of silence” for certain episodes. Oops.
For this escapade, now much older and more self-conscious, we toned it down. We didn’t want to get busted and we certainly didn’t think a fleeting glimpse of our vintage body parts would amuse anyone at this time in our lives.
The only risk was to commit social suicide and none of us cared one way or another if we did.
We took a great group photograph of the bunch of us, blew it up and scribbled “The Class of ’75 WAS HERE!” on it.
Karen was designated to jump out of the car, pick a good spot and tape that picture to the gym wall somewhere obvious, and then run like the wind, vault into the car and take off.
It sure didn’t work out that way.
As if mesmerized, we parked, totally abandoned the plan, piled out and scattered. It must’ve looked like clown cars in the circus.
Anne Marie, Eileen and Des went right into the gym and greeted everyone left at the event, Mary, Sue and I walked back to the athletic fields, Eileen even reportedly got up on stage when the alumni from the 70’s were called up.
But Karen, true to her original mission, taped that photo up on the gym door like a small blonde Martin Luther nailing 95 Theses to the church in Wittenberg.
The Class of ’75 was there.
The next morning, Sunday, Karen and I actually paid for breakfast at the Denny’s atoning just a little for a “dine and dash” incident a long time ago.
That guilt thing lasts forever.
“Whut choo like some pencake puppies? I hef to ask…” said our German waitress causing us to spew orange juice we laughed so hard.
Before starting the drive north to go home, we all met up one more time at Des’s house.
Des had already been to mass and had distributed communion to shut-ins, as is her habit and mission. The rest of us hold on to our Catholic practices tenuously, or not at all.
We have each other as a result of it though.
Saying good bye is hard now. I hate to leave the little fun bubble we create when we all get together. But our little lives must go on in separate places.
Karen was speaking on the drive back home of how it is a lonely glance backward in the rear view mirror sometimes.
“Oh you mean when Anne Marie or Des is standing there all sad faced when we’re driving away? Yeah…I told Sue there was to be no crying, damnit! Mary too!”
“No, I am talking about how high school is back there in the rear view, along with marriage, raising the kids, seeing them leave, for some divorce, watching our parents age and losing them, losing my husband Danny…All those things.”
All those things growing smaller and more distant as we dash ahead running generally above the speed limit.
“But we have to drive on forward,” she said, “There’re no u-turns.”
But I know now who is in the back seat riding along.
With a dozen eggs and a plan.
Sunrise. Lauderdale by The Sea
Mary, Des, Eileen, Linda, Karen, Anne Marie, Sue at d'Antonio's for tapas, looking innocent.
The little bohemian resort with great beach. Reminded me of Mexico on the coast there.
Here comes the sun...
These hearts in the sand were drawn in a trail all along the beach one morning.