When you’re weary…and feelin’ small…
When tears are in your eyes…I will dry them all
I’m on your side…Oh, when time gets rough
And friends just can’t be found…
When you’re down and out…
I’ll take your part….
Like a Bridge over troubled water…
Jorja was ready by 5:30. They were leaving on Monday before the 4th. She wasn’t sure if she was looking forward to a holiday, or dreading the possibility of another hiking adventure. At any rate, sleep had been hard to find, and by 3, she’d given up altogether.
She called Regina at 5.
“You ready to go?”
“No, I just got up about fifteen minutes ago. Are you already ready? This early?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep. Get ready and c’mon. I’ll drive – you can finish your coffee and pull everything together on the way.”
Regina was in the driveway by 5:45.
“You’ll just have to excuse the look. It’s called ‘Jorja called and made me hurry’, like it?”
She was grinning from ear to ear.
“I just love these getaways. And, I’m gonna get to shoot fireworks with my grandbabies this time.”
“C’mon. Let’s get this show on the road.”
Jorja cranked the jeep while Regina threw her bags in the back.
“Ok” she said as she slammed the door, “let’s go!”
The drive up this time, although just as beautiful was a much warmer drive. In fact, it was downright hot.
“No air conditioner, Jorja?”
“Sure, but what’s the point, the tops down, the windows are down, why bother with the air conditioner?”
“This reminds me of that year we went to Little Rock shopping in mom’s red car. There wasn’t an air conditioner in it, at all. You remember?”
“Of course I remember – that’s the year we got those god-awful psychedelic mini-skirts and those huge platform shoes.”
“Yep. Lord, we thought we were so cool.”
“We were. We just didn’t know how ridiculous cool looked back then.”
“My daddy hated that skirt. He never forbid me to wear it, but he sure did want too. Momma would just always say, ‘now Floyd, you’re not a girl growing up today…you know they just want to fit in’.”
“Yeah, daddy would just get up and leave the room if I came downstairs with it on. He never said a word after that first day I brought it home. He had plenty to say that day, but not afterwards. I figure Mom must have intervened as well.”
“Can you imagine what it would have been like back then, if we’d had cell phones like we do today?”
“Yeah, we would have stayed in trouble for talking and texting all the time. I’m kinda glad we didn’t have them, Regina. Look at all the issues there are with young people and ‘sexting’, never mind all those internet predators that lurk out there.”
“I know, and they don’t realize that stuff never goes away – thirty years from now, somebody somewhere, will have one of those pictures. By then, they’ll be somebody’s mom, or wife, and the consequences could be devastating.”
“Speaking of stuff that never goes away, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our first trip a few weekends ago. And I’ve come to several conclusions. Would you like to hear them?”
Regina was just a little apprehensive. She was so in hopes this trip wouldn’t be as difficult as the first. Not that they hadn’t had a great time, they did. But she didn’t want to be on the opposite side of Jorja’s beliefs on this trip. On this trip, she wanted them to be like they once were. All for one, and one for all.
“Yes…” she said somewhat hesitantly, “I would like to hear them, but only if the conclusions aren’t going to be something we have to disagree about. I really want to have a weekend where we don’t have any cross words.”
“I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed, then. I mean, about my conclusions – there’s no way to make any promises about the weekend, especially if it’s going to include Max.”
Regina chuckled. “You shouldn’t be so hard on Max. He’s an old man, and harmless. It’s ok for someone to have a different view and a different perspective. And it’s ok for Max to voice those opinions; it doesn’t have to change yours. You know Momma used to always say ‘Regina, it’s hard to hate up close’.”
“You know, I had forgotten that. I used to always wonder exactly what she meant by that when I was a kid. Now, it makes such perfect sense. I always wondered ‘up close to what’? Amazing what a little hindsight will do for clarity. And now, about my conclusions…”
“Wait just a minute. One more question, before you talk about your conclusions. I know I’ll forget if we get started on ‘conclusions’, so I need to ask this question now. How was your mom before we left? Did you check on her?”
“Oh, yes. I went by yesterday to check on her and make absolutely certain that Stella was coming down to pick her up and take her to spend the holiday with them. I even called Stella to confirm. Oh, and speaking of Stella, I need to tell you about the conversation I had with her about mom’s care. She’s unbelievable! Don’t let me forget to tell you about that conversation from last Friday. As for Mom, physically she’s doing pretty good. Her leg has healed great. It’s just her mind that has me worried now. And it’s not just that she’s forgetful – sometimes the whole direction of a conversation changes, just like turning off a light switch. She will be talking about one thing, and before we can finish – it’s like she forgets that subject, and moves on to something entirely different. I guess I need to do a little research, because I can’t seem to figure her out.”
“I already did some research. Have you had her checked for Alzheimer’s, Jorja?”
“No…I mean, there’s no history of it in our family, that I’m aware of…and I don’t think…well, hell, I just don’t know. You think that’s what it might be? I’m not familiar enough with the symptoms. I guess I need to check that out, and schedule her for a general checkup. She hasn’t had one since she broke her leg.”
“I printed some materials for you to read. She’s reached the age where it’s a possibility and you won’t know for sure unless you at least have her checked.”
“Just give me the materials, and when we get back, I’ll read over them and take her to the doctor. Now, on to my conclusions.”
“I’m not sure what I expected when I saw your Facebook friend request. To be honest, Regina, so much was happening with my move and mom’s health that I hadn’t given a lot of thought to anybody in Polk Ridge, much less having a chance to get together with you again. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a friend, but that’s the truth. Then, when you sent the request, it was like I immediately thought of the Regina from 1976. I didn’t stop to think that we had changed – both of us – not just me and not just you.”
“Then, we met at the house, and in a way, it was just like when we were kids. We just kind of skimmed the surface, though. We didn’t really talk about ‘now’; we talked about ‘then’. Once we planned that weekend hike, though, and actually spent a weekend together, the realization that we’ve both changed over the last forty years, was right there in front of me.”
“Oh, Jorja. I know we’ve changed, but…”
“No, just wait. Hear me out. I don’t know how you managed to be a counselor, your listening skills suck.” She grinned at Regina, and picked up with the rest of her conversation.
“When we got home that Sunday, I was having second thoughts. I mean real, second thoughts. Your views and mine are not the same. There are differences in principles tons of differences in lifestyles, and I just really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then, you know what I did? You’re not gonna believe this part… I called Paul.”
“You did what? Paul Collections? You called him? For what?”
“Well, I wanted to talk to somebody that really didn’t know either of us now, somebody that remembered what we were like then. To just be honest about it, I’m not sure why I thought of Paul. And, I really felt like an idiot at first, trying to talk to him about our weekend. But the longer I talked, the more comfortable I felt; it was just like talking to the same Paul I knew all those years ago. With one exception: his voice sounds old!”
Jorja laughed, almost girlishly.
“You know what I think? I think you still have feelings for Paul. I mean, the first chance you had to run to Paul for advice, that’s exactly what you did. That sounds like feelings to me.”
“Well, I’m still sorting that out – that has nothing to do with my conclusions, though. His advice to me: stop looking for Regina Ingram, Class of ’76, and start looking at the chance to get to know Regina Phillips, 2012.”
“So, I guess I sort of owe you an apology. I expected you to still be just like you were then. I never stopped to think that you’ve lived a lifetime; a life that I wasn’t part of, and I need to get to know the Regina sitting beside me. It might one day be just like it was then, or, it might one day be an even better friendship than it was then. However it might turn out, I really do want to give it a shot. I can try to understand your side, if you can try to understand mine. If there are some differences, we’ll take them one at a time. In order to have a friend, you must be a friend.”
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