Day 24: Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Today was one of those days that when they come across your path, you hold onto it for dear life and enjoy every nugget and morsel you can out of it. I was headed to Sheboygan Falls, WI, where I grew up and what literally made me who I am today. So love me or hate me, it’s this city that built me.

After a touch up on my hair, and a fill up at the local “Kwik Trip, “ I was on my way to Jodi Baussener first for lunch at “Roadside” in Plymouth, WI. I had not seen Jodi since our hug good-bye at out 1992 Graduation, so I was super excited to get this one on one time with her.  The big group things are so much fun, but it’s also really nice to sit and chat with people on their own so I can connect with them on different levels of life.  Every one has a story, and it always amazes me the stories I get to hear and be a part of in this lifetime…and Jodi was no different.  This visit was VERY special to me, because I needed, and wanted, to love on her a bit more. You see, she lost her sweet brother to Covid and I remember this dear friend in High School having the biggest heart for people she loved.  If I lost my brother, I would want my friends to recognize it.  So it was my mission to make sure SHE knew that I was there for her, whether I am a thousand miles away or next door, she was NOT alone in this.

The minute she walked in, I jumped out of my booth to hug her and we basically didn’t stop talking for the next 3 hours. Well, 29 years to catch up, and even though Facebook does help, we all know we don’t post the really dark corners of our lives on there. We post the time of joy and love, nobody wants to be reminded of the valleys we are in…usually because we too found ourselves in the same ones.  So we ate, we chatted, we laughed, and we cried.  I am hoping that it fed her soul, because it fed mine.  I didn’t want to go, but I had many an errand to run around town while I was here, so with one last hug, we said goodbye and I said I would see her next year when I return. Love you Jodi..you got this.

Over the next couple of hours, I sort of decided I would take my own “Reality Tour” around Falls with Walter (whatever reality you think that is with me carrying a Muppet around at 47), take pics, and just hit some familiar spots.  I visited my old house on Big Bend Lane, then went to see my Grandma laid to rest in the St. Mary’s Cemetery, then started to drive one direction and realized I knew I could stop and see someone that I hadn’t seen in years.  Lucy Cardarelle babysat Ryan and I after school when I was going to St. Mary’s, she was known as “Auntie” to many of us.  She had sent my Mom a  letter a few years ago, almost in despair, wondering if Ryan or I even remembered her anymore and that she felt like all of the kids she took care of forgot her.  Because I am all about righting as many wrongs in my life as possible, this was one I could fix. So I rang her doorbell, and she opened it…she just looked at me. I said “I don’t know if you remember me Lucy, but…. “ and before I could speak anymore she screamed “AMY!!” And we had the best hug!! She and Mel are now 86, and actually they both are doing quite well for their age. Mel remembered me too, so we visited for about an hour, I showed her pictures of my family and my parents too.  It was really nice and before I left, I turned to her and said “I love you, I didn’t forget you, you were very important to my story.” She got teary eyed, another hug, and I left. Spread Kindness.

A couple more stops, some weren’t home, so I headed downtown Falls. Our little area was the Main Street you see everywhere, with one exception…. “Evans.” This Store, I believe is 60 years old now, and when I walked in…it SMELLED the same. I think it’s a combination of home town joy meets a really good candy aisle. Over time it seems to have shrunk down quite a bit, but that man has filled in every corner of that Store with stuff.  Literally his motto should be “Can’t find it anywhere? Try Evans!” So I bought the 25 cent candy packs for my High School friends for the evening….because we all need a little “Evans” in our lives.

The main event for the day was the Reunion dinner at Parker Johns at the Boardwalk in Sheboygan. Now, I have to tell you how funny these things are to organize…. My biggest thing is ALWAYS….who will show up.  I KNOW it’s been 29 years since we all graduated, but that quiet, shy, never good enough, Amy Falk gets INCREDIBLY anxious that someone will see I organized it and won’t want to come for ANY reason. No bad blood, just didn’t like me then, why like me now. So this fear had been playing on me for some time before the evening…to the point I started reaching out to classmates encouraging them to come.  You never want to beg, and I know I am worth more than that, but I also wanted everyone to feel included. So here’s the deal, lots came, and many didn’t show. And in life, that’s just how it is. As I got more and more comfortable, and with each hug and smile, it was quite apparent that it was more about who showed up than who able not too. Life happens, I get it, so we just roll with it and celebrate who is right in front of us. What is meant for me, is meant for me.

15 total came, and we had THE loudest table in the Restaurant…it was bloody brilliant.  So much fun, chatting, drinking, and genuine fellowship….my sides still hurt from laughing.  What struck me as I sat in the middle of this love fest was how AMAZING the Class of 1992 was. It took everything in me at times not to break down in tears to see so many people laughing, and happy….after the year we have ALL been through and to be sitting here among friends from our childhood and to talk without masks, and touch without fear we would get something…I can’t describe the joy.  I remember the day we graduated so vividly- I was standing in the wings waiting for our Class to walk up to the Stage to get ready, and reminding myself that this would be the very last time we would all be together in the same room. 29 years ago…how is that possible.  A person can go through SO MUCH in life, live so many good and bad experiences, and yet come FULL circle back to the ones you started life out with- it’s truly an amazing thing.  So to the Class of 1992….specifically to the ones who came to the dinner….thank you for loving me, my good and ugly sides, and for making me feel proud of our Class and the friendships we continue to have over these many years. Each one of you have played a VERY specific and special part in my life that no one could ever replace.  If I could, I would tuck you all away in my pockets on this road trip. If Christine Peterson has her way, I should be able to locate her in my car at some point. LOL Yep, this was a sappy post…don’t care. Life is too short to not tell those who matter in your life that you love them…so to all of you who came…I love you more than words can describe, thank you for making me feel loved and accepted.

*On a side note…..his name is WALTER….he isn’t a puppet, he’s a MUPPET. I think poor Walter will need therapy after my friends met him last night…it was actually hilarious. Clearly many of them need to watch the movie…what else do they have to do in their 40s? LOL

I headed home in the darkness of Highway 43, it was late when I left the group of 5 still chatting at 10:30..I am sure I would have stayed longer if I was overnighting closer, but another full day ahead and I needed to sleep and not have a massive hangover. (Yeah, one drink can do it- what can I say, I am a lightweight). LOL  I also am saddened that it was my first day NOT getting a blog post done in the evening, but people, my time was WAYYYYYY better spent at my Reunion than sitting on this laptop. And that’s the cool thing- I am my own boss, I make the rules. I called an audible last night and said screw it, it was about time with them and my sleep when I got back. Besides, it will be a lot more coherent today reading this… exhausted Amy sounds like drunk Amy, and nobody has time for that!  Love you, see you again soon!

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