Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As people I had worked with 30 years ago descended on my house last night, I wondered if the house could contain all of them and all the food they were bringing to our pot-luck reunion. We had shared a relationship much like a family as we traveled to developing countries in our younger years to impart technical assistance to people all over the world.

Time had been much kinder to some than others. One of my ex-bosses had quadruple bi-pass surgery. Another recently had a hip replacement and came in walking with a cane. I had to look hard and try to morph a face back in time to figure out who some of the people were.

I had forgotten those office potlucks where we always had way too much food. I have a lot of counter space in my kitchen and yet it was quickly filled up with Indonesian shrimp curry and chicken paprikash and every imaginable international dish. It was a logistical nightmare just to figure out how to put out all the food and get 50+ people through a buffet line to pile their plates high. I was ever indebted to the weather gods who gave us a balmy night which allowed 15 people to sit out on the deck.

Several people had brought photo albums of the “good old days.” Jeff pointed to one picture of me as we were working in Panama and remarked at how young I looked with my long blond hair. “It was 30 years ago, you bimbo,” I said, remembering that trip when we ran all over Panama City sampling the local cuisine and entertainment when we weren’t working at the Office of Statistics.

At one point in the evening, the boss who was most responsible for hiring all of us and who had left because of a scandal handed out “Lifetime Achievement Awards” to each person in attendance and talked about how we had been ambassadors to the world. Despite his faults, he totally believed in what we were doing and knew how to get money to support our program of international assistance.

As exciting as it was to travel to places like Nairobi and Lesotho and Bangkok and Santiago, I acknowledged that this was just a chapter of my life that provided enrichment and a view into the world beyond the US borders that most people never have. I hugged them all as the crowd finally went home, urging them to take their leftovers. I vowed that we should do it again before another 30 years pass because some of those people will no longer be here by then.


Blogger Richard said...

I find reminiscence to always be bitter-sweet, especially the further back one goes. OF course, I am not talking about reminiscing about childhood, we were definitely different people then. But as we look back on our adult years, they seem to have all passed far too quickly.

Glad you could all get together and have a good time.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It sounds like a good night. I've found myself a part of a few impromptu trips down memory lane lately. Bittersweet but well worth it.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I think you are so amazing because you're always having large numbers of people over for food and think nothing of it. It always turns out well. I get nervous if there's one other couple coming! You are a confident and competent cook and I am just not that way.

3:14 PM  

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