I think I have recovered from the re-union. I have to say it was not an existential meltdown as I had anticipated. We haven’t changed all that much over the years aside from more or less weight and more or less hair. I haven’t been back to Pana since the mid ’90’s and the town has changed.
My old junior high is non-existent and my old high school has become the new junior high. There was a fire apparently in the old junior high and the city demolished the building…nothing left but a grassy stretch on a city block. That to me was perhaps the weirdest thing that I encountered on my trip. Although, having lunch at Pizza Man beneath a row high school football helmets that had awards and names listed on them was interesting…considering that my name was on the scout team award. Not the sexiest thing to be awarded; however, still kinda cool. It’s kinda like being given the “wait until next year” award which I got from my football team in elementary school in Mississippi. Not overly impressive, but the thought was nice. Probably also explains why I never played in the NFL. So thanks to Mykal, Amanda, and Bradyn for seating with us and enjoying the cuisine.
My wife probably had the weirdest reaction to the whole thing. This did not stem from anything bad happening or anyone’s rudeness because that was not the case. Everyone greeted her warmily and I thank you all for that. No, her reaction was caused by the fact that she believed where we live now is a small town…I guess I hadn’t properly prepared her for Pana. 5700 is what the signs say and for a girl born on Long Island that grew up in Boca Raton the smallness of Pana must have been staggering.
She said to me, “you have had a different life than me.” I chuckled and knew this to be true. There is something to be said for small towns; the comfortableness, the people and the heart. Life happens everywhere to all people, but it sometimes takes a trip to Pana to remind me how the quality of your life can never be measured by a number but by the people in them.
Also, breakfast at the Rosebud was priceless. So thanks to Melody, Shannon (which I have to admit was a bit of surprise to me) and Tim for organizing the weekend gathering. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed it! My son even smooched a girl…not bad for 14 months old. I am going to embarrass him with that story when he gets older, LOL!
So if you are ever in Pana, IL make sure you stop by the Home Town Food Center and getcha some hometown food! How’s that for a plug, Tim?
To my classmates that were unable to make it, sorry I missed you and hope to talk to you soon!