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Went Home To Tennessee This Weekend To See Family, Attend 20-Year High School Reunion

Posted Jul 28 2009 12:30am


My stepmom Faye eating an ice cream cone with my dad J.D.

You may have noticed (maybe not) that I’ve been away from the blog since Friday so I could head back “home” to Tennessee where I graduated high school 20 years ago. Class reunions tend to be scary for a lot of people, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing people who I grew up with and befriended in my teenage years to see what they are doing now. Through the magic of social networking web sites like Facebook, everyone is able to reconnect with their past. If you haven’t joined already, then what the heck are you waiting for? You can add me as a friend by going to YouTube.com/LivinLaVidaLowCarb.

On Friday night, we drove in late in the afternoon after driving most of the day to the great metropolitan city of Bolivar, Tennessee…small-town America about 90 miles east of Memphis. The town is well-known for its mental health institution which my dad reminds me that everybody else lets their crazy people run the streets while we keep our locked up. Funny guy, huh? It was amazing to see how much the city had built up since I was in high school because now they have a Super Wal-mart! Hey, don’t laugh, it’s a big deal to a town like Bolivar. My dad J.D. took us out to dinner at Joe’s Restaurant before our informal get-together with the Bolivar Central High School Class of 1989.


My wife Christine holding classmate Laura Creekmore’s baby

When we got to the Bolivar Municipal Center for our Friday night shindig, it was fantastic to see so many people show up for this pre-reunion get-together. Some of these people I haven’t seen in two decades when we walked the graduation stage together while others I have only seen here and there, like our class valedictorian Laura Creekmore from the “Fixin’ Supper” blog who brought her new baby. I was struck by how amazingly cordial EVERYBODY was towards each other. I guess once you reach your late 30s, all those petty squabbles of our teenage years seem so…well, petty. Life is too short, right?

As I was walking around chit-chatting with old classmates asking them about what their life is like nowadays, I couldn’t believe how many of them went on to become teachers and church leaders. It was practically the entire class! Makes my job as a health and weight loss blogger/podcaster/author seem so out of place in comparison. But I’m proud of what I do just as my high school friends are about the vocation they have chosen for their life. It was quite a flashback seeing so many familiar faces, although with less or graying hair and maybe an extra pound or two on many.


My friend Evelyn looking up at something…not really sure!

I enjoyed seeing some of my closest friends from high school like Ben, Julie, Laquanta, and Evelyn Prather who just happens to be a diet and health blogger herself advocating for a raw food diet. She is hoping to follow in my footsteps with her own podcast show and write full-time for a living. There wasn’t a sweeter, more genuine person in high school than Evelyn and I wish her all the best as she pursues this new career path.

On Saturday morning, we wanted to see some family before heading 30 miles north to Jackson, Tennessee at the DoubleTree Hotel for the formal reunion dinner and program. I called my Aunt Mary Jane who was a rock for me during my high school years when things got tumultuous for me at times. I could always count on her being there with loving support no matter what. She said she used to read my blog a lot when I wrote about my life, but lately she hasn’t because I’ve been writing about too much of that “health crap” again. LOL! My cousin Robert concurred. Oh well, you can’t win them all–even family!


My brother Kevin’s final resting place is in Bolivar, TN

After seeing Aunt Mary Jane, Jerry, Robert, Melissa and the kids, dad took us to Shandy Baptist Church where the remains of my brother Kevin are buried after he died in October 2008. My dad bought this amazing headstone that is a fitting tribute for Kevin. He was right next to our Memaw Luerene who died in 2007 and my dad’s sister Yvonne who was killed in a car accident when I was less than a year old. It felt good to know there was a place where I could go to see Kevin when I’m back “home” again.


Three of my best friends in high school: Ben, Laquanta, and Julie

After spending a few hours in Bolivar with family, it was time to head to Jackson for the reunion. I was so excited to see everyone again, but especially those people who I was closest to twenty years ago. People like Ben, Laquanta, and Julie who sat together with me (and we sat together at the reunion dinner, too!) was like bringing back old times again. We were missing Dawn and Amy, so our entire crew wasn’t there. But it was very nice being back with people who you shared experiences with during those days when we were trying to figure out who we are as people. It’s so neat to see how “settled” everyone is now in their lives.

As you probably have seen from our YouTube videos and other photos, I’ve been sporting a goatee and sideburns for a few months to go along with my new glasses. But after some urging from my wife Christine to return to my “babyface” look from high school, I decided to chop it off about an hour before the reunion. Only one person (Christy) asked about where the facial hair went and I told her it was better to keep her happy and get rid of the beard than to see her upset over something so innocuous. Plus she said it makes me look a lot younger. I was one of the youngest people in my high school graduating class after all.

We had a HILARIOUS time trying to get a group photo of the BCHS Class of ‘89, but after about 30 minutes or so we got it done. All the basketball players from high school couldn’t get over how tall I am now at 6′3″ tall. I was kinda short at 17 at about 5′10″ and shot up when I got to college. I think I’m the 3rd tallest person in our class now WAY behind Chris Turner at 6′7″. It’s all good!


I had the opportunity to speak in front of the group

The Reunion Committee asked me to be one of the speakers reflecting on memories of our school days. I also spoke at the 10-year reunion, so I guess they thought I did a good job then. My reflections were on the whacked out teachers we had and everyone seemed to enjoy my remarks. Some people barely had any recollection of the things I was talking about, but I have somewhat of a photographic memory about certain things. Call it a blessing or a curse, but it is what it is.

After a rotten night’s sleep on Friday night at my dad’s house where Christine and I slept on a twin-sized bed (not very conducive to sleeping for a tall guy!), I called it a night at the reunion around 11:00PM. My ankle is still hurting from a volleyball injury a couple of weeks back, so I couldn’t dance or anything like some of my fellow classmates. Of course, I didn’t dance back in high school, so why would I start now? All in all, it was a FABULOUS weekend of activities and not nearly as boring as the Florida reunion was last month. Kudos to all the Reunion Committee members Larry, Audrea, Makeya, and Andy.

Sunday morning I slept in a bit and woke up with a big crick in my neck that still hurts nearly two days later. UGH! Driving home with that pain in the neck (no, not Christine!) was no fun, but this trip was so worth it that I’d do it all over again. To my classmates from BCHS Class of 1989, you never looked so fine! Can’t wait to see you again in a few more years. Keep livin’ the life the good Lord has blessed you with and be encouraged that we’re all in this together. See you on Facebook or in person when we can.

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