With Our Forties Raised…

Check this! There is only one way to spend the day before your twenty-sixth birthday and that is with your wife and a heaping helping of your closest college pals, back in town to celebrate another birthday — that of our dear, departed alma mater. Though the calves they were a hurting when the day began, and though rainclouds seemed to follow us throughout, the two-hundred anniversary of old Bradford was an amazing experience for me, and I’m pretty sure, for everyone else too.

Forgive me if this comes off sounding cold or report-like. The only way I’m getting through all of this is if I try to do it in some sort of sequential order.

Morning. We get up, pick up the apartment a bit because we’re having guests for the night, and then we head off to meet Stacey and Monica at a Dunkin Donuts down the street from the college in Haverhill. This, of course, was interesting for Stephanie and I because we’re both on low-carb diets and there really isn’t anything in Dunkin’s for people who’ve adopted that lifestyle. We were cool though. We sat and chatted with the girls and their guys and I did my best not to mention the name of the local baseball franchise or to attach myself to that franchise in any way by use the words ‘we’ or ‘our’ in relation to said franchise.

When we got to campus we bumped into all manner of folk. Larsen and Rickman and at least a couple of others bumped into us in front of the campus center. Tara, who we hadn’t seen since her wedding, had come along with parents (who are wonderful and always seem to be at these things) and her baby (who was adorable in a a little sweatshirt Tara’s mom had bought from the college a long while ago in anticipation of her first grandchild, and who Stephanie held for some time — which warmed my heart considerably) was with Evil Deb in one of their old rooms in Academy Hall. You weren’t supposed to go up into the building because the new owners had only allowed us use of the dining hall and the bathrooms, but nobody paid attention to that.

Are you sick of the name-dropping yet? I hope not. We’re not even at lunch yet.

Inside we hung with all the people I’ve already mentioned and we also bumped into Jason at one point, Nikki at another,  Kristie at yet another point, and Brenda a little bit later on. We spent some time with Brenda and ate lunch with her before dropping her off where she was staying because events were shutting down until the evening festivities.

There are tons of people I’m forgetting. Please, if anyone stops by here, contribute the names of people I bumped into or people you bumped into. It’s all just too much to remember.

After we dropped off Brenda, we made our way back to campus to meet up with a few people for the afternoon. Tori and Dan had driven down from Maine. Greg had come up from elsewhere in Massachusetts. Erik had driven from elsewhere in Haverhill. We wandered campus and throught the open library building and Conover Hall. All of that was weird and I was kind of sad and glad when we departed. The people, after all, have become my lasting good memory of the college. The campus itself is harder to bear.

People needed to get shit at Wal-Mart, so we went to Wal-Mart. Then we went for dinner at the Peddler’s Daughter, a pub in downtown Haverhill. Outside, after dinner, Greg bought a copy of my book — something he’d been meaning to do — and I racked up my second sale of the day, the first having been to Brenda earlier at lunch.

After perusing a gallery and trying to see if our old friend Ad’m was at his apartment, we got our act together and headed over to the Lasting Room, where the Young Alumni Party was being held. It cost twenty-bucks a person to get in and all the food they were supplying was bagged snack chips and such (there was no free drink included or anything) but twenty-bucks was well-worth the fact that we had a forum in which to hang with all our dear old pals.

In no particular order, we bumped into Heather and Rob, Brenda, David, Jason, Rickman, Tara, Deb, Jimmy, Paul, Elise, dancers who I always thought were cool but whose names I can’t remember, Chill Bill, uhm, Roger, and just about everyone I expected to be there and quite a few more.

The aforementioned local baseball franchise was on the tube, playing a game that looked and sounded like it was amazing. A band, Second Nature was playing covers and Larsen got up with them frequently to jam. That was amazing for me because Chris is one of my best friends and I think he’s a phenomenal performer. Uhm, what else…

Jimmy and I were watching the clock, waiting for midnight and my birthday. I was drinking Midori sours whenever I could get my hands on one. By the bands’s last sets I was singing along to every song and I was dancing like a fucking madman. Stef said she’d never quite seen me let loose like that. I don’t think much of it was the alcohol either. The people, the music, the fact that my birthday was coming — that was enough to intoxicate me.

While the band played “The Middle,” Trot Nixon stepped up to the plate and hit a ball hard enough that the local baseball franchise won the game. Everybody’s hands were in the air. It was an exclamation point.

The party wound down, but not before a host of other fun stuff went down. I’m not trying to leave out any details but there was simply so much going on. Random name-dropping: Deb, Coren, Sacco, uhm, that’s it for now… Jimmy had me leaning over the pool table to give birthday spankings when the clock struck midnight.

The Tigh and Rog Blues Experience played. The whole thing was a blast.

We hung at Heather and Rob’s hotel room for a little while. Tori and I tried to convince the others that we weren’t drunk. I had basically lost my voice from all the singing. On the way home we dropped Erik off at his place. Greg, Tori, and Dan crashed at our place. My birthday had only just begun and it was already one of the most memorable ever.

And brunch with friends, a Patriots game, another game featuring the local baseball franchise, and the REM concert with JonMartin and Julie was still to come.