The other day my friend, Lauri, posted some old wedding pictures to commemorate her thirtieth wedding anniversary. I wrote on her post, “I remember when . . . . .” Lauri’s mom, Mrs. Patrenos, was the nurse at the elementary school I attended and first worked at many years ago. I met Lauri when I transferred to Peralta Elementary. Lauri was a student teacher at the time for my soon to be best friend, Peggy Hillis. Part of Lauri’s student teaching duties was to occasionally make lunch runs to our favorite Mexican food restaurant, Popo’s. That is the day I became Peggy Hillis’s best friend. Anyone that wouldl send a student teacher to Popo’s for the best cheese crisps and green chili was itching to be my best friend and so was any student teacher that made that run.
Lauri and Peggy were the part of the original “sistahhood”. We called ourselves The Nightriders. There were about eight of us. We were young new teachers that worked hard and played even harder. We drove the older established teachers crazy with our pranks and birthday parties for member of The Nightriders that took over the teachers’ lounge. We were even called out by administration for considering ourselves a “special” group. But as Peggy said to our principal whom we also considered our second dad, “Anyone can be a member they just have to fill out an application, go through initiation, and wear the official pin." (Aside to my new sistah, Illona, yes, we had an official pin which you were going to design for the “new sistahhood.)
This brings me to the “remember when” with Lauri and her husband Terry. As Nightriders we got together monthly, at first it was for happy hours then when husbands came along it was game nights and after children arrived it became family camping trips. One spring day Peggy decided we were going to go camping. Peggy loved to camp I on the other hand saw no reason to camp when it was just as easy to spend the evening around a fire pit roasting marshmallows and then spend the night in my own nice, comfortable bed. Why would anyone want to pack up husbands, kids, dogs, and friends to spend a frigid night sleeping on rocks and a day finding some place to pee in the woods and don’t even think about pooping? But I was outnumbered, so the families loaded up their vans and Lauri, Terry and I packed up my van and we were off.
We were going to camp at a serene out-of-the-way place called Locket Meadows outside of Flagstaff. When we left Peggy’s driveway she said, “If we lose touch on the road, (This was before mobile phones.) we will meet you at the Burger King in Flag. At the time, I was able to drive, Lauri rode shotgun and Terry was in the back with the boxes of food and supplies. I didn’t know Terry that well, but I learned a lot about him on that trip. Number 1, if a man wants to get into the snacks and munch on the trip up, let him, if not, he becomes an angry, hungry bear and throws canned cheese at you when you tell him to stop digging in the food.
It is important to know that driving was the one thing that I could do all by myself without assistance. It was my freedom and I had a tendency to drive like a bat out of hell. In all the years that I drove FAST, I was only stopped once but never received a ticket. Also, I did not stop to pee or eat. The destination was my goal and getting their first was my trophy.
We arrived at the Burger King in Flagstaff in record time and we had to wait in the parking lot. We waited and waited and waited. We even drove to the Taco Bell and got something to eat while we waited for at least an hour. Peggy and the rest of the caravan were nowhere to be seen. We couldn’t believe that our friends would leave without us and we didn’t really know how to get to Locket Meadows. We stopped at a Circle K to ask for directions. When Terry told the clerk that our friends left us the clerk said, “You don’t have very nice friends because Locket Meadows is a bitch to find.” Terry wrote down the sparse directions and he and Lauri traded seats and we were on our way to find our “friends” that had ditched us. The number 2 thing that I learned about Terry on that trip, he had the patience of a saint. It was dark by the time we found the narrow-edged-by-a-steep-cliff-lit-by-only-moonlight-rocky-dirt road to Locket Meadows. I drove white knuckled like a snail almost at a sixty-five degree angle on the side of the mountain that was away from the cliffed-edge-that-would-send-us-to-our-death, if I got anywhere close to it. And my co-pilot, Terry, patiently talked me over every rock and didn’t get angry when I drove too close or up on the wall away from the cliffed-edge-that-would-send-us-to-our-death. Along the narrow-edged-by-a-steep-cliff-lit-by-only-moonlight-rocky-dirt road to Locket Meadows there were many turn off roads that led to nowhere. We know because we took them all with Terry walking in front of the van with a flashlight to be able to see the fallen trees that I couldn’t spot with my headlights. Yes, that’s how dark it was.
We finally found Locket Meadows and our serene out-of-the-way camping spot in the pitch dark, but what we didn’t find were our “so called friends that ditched us”. Meanwhile back at the Burger King a few minutes after we left on our quest the rest of the gang pulled in and they waited and waited and waited for us. They waited so long that they even went to the Highway Patrol office to ask if there had been any accidents with my van. What we forgot is that they had dogs that had to get out and pee and kids that had to get out and snack and dads and moms that had to stretch their legs and rest their ears from the “Are we there, yet?” chanting. All I had in the van was a lead foot, a friend and her patient, kind, canned-cheese-throwing husband.
We finally found each other, blamed each other for the mix-up, and spent a great weekend camping in the serene out-of-the-way place known as Locket Meadows. And from that moment on whenever The Nightriders were going to meet up somewhere Peggy would shout before getting in her car, “Hey, Cathy and Lauri, we’ll meet you at the Burger King in Flagstaff!”
SO, Lauri, I remember when I would come over to your house to put up the Christmas tree and we would drink hot chocolate and make Terry crazy because we would make him place the tinsel on the tree one at a time. I remember when we would have game night and beat the cahonies off the boys. But most of all I remember when we took a road trip to Locket Meadows with that canned-cheese-throwing-patience-of-a-saint husband of yours. That is the weekend I knew you had snagged yourself a keeper!
I remember when I was just a pup and you took me everywhere with you and we went to a graduation party at Lauri and Terry's house and Terry held me in his lap most of the evening.
The Flip Side
I remember when . . . . .okay, I don't think I know these people but I bet Terry would go lizard hunting with me. He could knock 'em out with canned cheese. I love cheese.