The Reunion

Posted: July 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

One of my dear friends on Twitter tweeted me that she hoped I would blog about The Reunion. This is for you, my dear, you know who you are.

I’ve been laying in bed for almost 2 hours, reliving The Reunion. The thing about writing about reunions, is that a reunion is a group of people who have a history together. That’s where I’m stuck. I write these blogs, off the cuff. Off the top of my confused head, this being one of the more confusing stories to put together. Here goes.

Facebook, one of us found someone who led to finding another and in a short time, the core group was all together again.” The Kennedy Road Gang is back together”, I shouted from my Facebook page. Behind the scenes a reunion was in the making, some dates were offered, nixed, then finally one agreed on by the 6 of us. July 11, 2010. It was a go. My anxiety kicked in immediately. A date, a commitment, something I’m not good with, something to make an excuse to not be there, something I fear alot.

We would be meeting across the street from my folks house. They don’t live there anymore, they passed away. The gathering was being hosted by my across the street former BFF’s parents. They were gracious enough to offer their home as an initial meeting place.

 Kennedy Road, I must tell you about Kennedy Road. I was a transplant at age 15 almost 16, going into my Jr. year of High School. Another job offer for my dad dragged me kicking and screaming from 5 years in Hillsborough, NJ, where I was blossoming as a young woman. A. I was in love with a boy. B. I was just getting over my extreme shyness and getting involved with the “actors” in school, doing make up and making some cool friends. C. This totally and utterly sucked. From the moment I heard about this move to stuffy, pretentious Connecticut, I was miserable and angry and lost. I didn’t belong in Connecticut, I was a New Jersey girl for 5 years and that was long enough for the Jersey part to stick. I didn’t want to move!

So, just like the “Goodbye Bunny” blog, my dad went ahead, did the legwork, found the house….bla, bla…this moving was getting old at this point. I wasn’t a child  anymore. I had hormones and I was Hell on Wheels. My dad found a lovely, spacious ranch house at the very bottom of Kennedy Road. You see, the higher up you go on Kennedy Road, the bigger and fancier the houses get. And back in 1974, the very tip-top of Kennedy Road hosted a billboard that screamed, “A Uniquely Executive Community” . That billboard really pissed me off for some reason. It may as well screamed, “Joanne, Go Back To New Jersey, You Don’t Belong Here”. My dad almost bought a house, kind of  a funky, modern thing at the top, but decided on the little ranch at the bottom, there were woods in the back yard and nice porch and it was beautiful.

There’s a million and one other things to put a back story to this, maybe another time. We arrived, classy moving vans, miserable me,  my folks, one of my brothers and 2 dogs. My sister and my oldest brother didn’t move this time with the family. My sister was married and just had her second child and my oldest brother stayed behind because he had a life and was old enough to do his own thing. So, a negative, the family was broken up. Four children, down to two. Two nephews I would’nt be able babysit for any more. Not to mention, I was very close with my older brother, we had a really nice connection back then and he had THE cutest friends on the planet. Nuff said.

I spent all of my time alone in my room writing letters. My mom tried to encourage me to make some friends, it was summer and school would be starting soon. A giant horrible, scary school, 10 times the student population of my old school. Good god, everything was wrong with this picture. Eventually, the nice girl from across the street came over, one thing led to another…Beach Boys albums, girly stuff and we became friends. She went to the Catholic school while I was going to muttle through the CT public high school system. Ha!

The core group ended up becoming good friends, we spent our 2 remaining high school years doing fun things together and I was so grateful that I had gained acceptance into the Kennedy Road Gang, despite my many issues, bad behavior, drinking and being as bad as I could possibly be we had some great times together. They went off to college, I stayed behind and worked, partied at their college a lot, no credits for that whatsoever,  fell in love with a golden hair guitar player, got married and became estranged from gang. Joanne, exit stage left from The Kennedy Road Gang.

The reunion was amazing. I was running a bit late and parked along the curb across the street from my folks house. I was prepared to get choked up, but wham it hit me like 2 x 4 that it was all over, the house was there, the memories were there but my parents were not. I took a while getting out of the car, just staring at the house, the trees out front that my dad planted. The front porch with different furniture on it, I even peeked around the side, where my dad grew his tomatoes that he was so proud of. My eyes were welled up, but I was in complete control on the outside, not a smear of the extra mascara I had applied. The stuff, was all inside, safe and secret.

I walked up to the door of my friend’s parents house and was greeted warmly. The folks looked amazing! Then I walked into the family room and the group was already seated, deep in conversation. Hugs and “you haven’t changed at all” all around. It was fabulous to be amongst this very special group of people once again. I counted my blessings and theirs, that we were all well and healthy and able to get together. Conversation ensued, this…that…him….her….remember when. Our personal memories.

The reunion lasted about 4 hours, one person didn’t make it at all, and one had to leave early. There was supposed to be a going out to dinner thing, but myself and another member of the gang had to get home. It was over.

I made some amends. I expressed my thanks to someone for trying to help me back then. I acknowledged that I was a real “problem child” and that I was sorry and am no longer that very screwed up young lady, in hopes that they can all forgive my indiscretions and  see that I’m all grown up now, in fairly good shape, tons of love in my heart and most of all that I was educated, not by a University but by life and all the ups and downs and sideways places it has taken me. I have always struggled with the fact that I did not go to college.

So, yeah….The Reunion. I’ll never, ever forget it~ And to you , The Kennedy Road Gang, thank you for taking me on way back in 1974….I will always love you for that!  And mostly, thank you for inviting me back!  With love, The Displaced Jersey Girl.

July 22,2010

Coventry, CT

  1. Dani H says:

    Isn’t it “You can never go home again”? 😉 I had a similar experience. The night before my 16th birthday, my mother informed me that we were moving from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to Des Moines, Iowa. I was not given time to say goodbye to my friends, get my driver’s license, kiss my boyfriend of three years goodbye, buy warm clothes, nothing. Just put on a plane with a direct flight straight into a November blizzard in Des Moines. My mother and step-father drove out with car and U-Haul truck. Neither one had wanted to listen to me bitch the whole way. ;-P Oh, and I feel the same way about the fact that I didn’t go to college either. Thank you for sharing some of your memories. Isn’t it wonderful what the internet allows us to do now? Love you, bunny! *BIG Hugs* ❤

    • joannefirth says:

      This is a traumatic move Dani! I’m sorry you experienced that. I at least had time to kiss ALL the boys goodbye. You are right about that quote. “You can never go home again”. I wouldn’t say “never”, I would just say, use waterproof mascara, if you do. Thank you for sharing a very heart wrenching experience. I hope that you had an easy adjustment despite being uprooted at such a delicate age to Des Moines. It sure ain’t easy is it? Love and hugs. ❤

  2. Linda Adcock says:

    How wonderful that you got to go Sis and see all your old friends. It had to be hard for you to be in the old neighborhood. Good for you! I hope you are able to get together again.

    • joannefirth says:

      Thanks Sis, it was a great time! Everyone is doing wonderful, healthy and happy. It did my heart good to go back. Mom and Dad’s house looks kind of sanitized, still the same color, but lacking Mom’s touch with her flowers. My friend’s mom said the same people who bought it from the estate are still there and they even kept the same green carpeting! It wasn’t an easy story to write, because the move to Connecticut really caused me to make that wrong turn that took years and years to make up for. You went through the same thing when we moved to New Jersery from California, getting pulled away from your college acceptance and your heart of hearts…aka (the drummer). Now that we can look back, we shared so many of the same experiences. The good news is eventually, you land on your feet and the memories are just that, memories.

      Little Sis

  3. Joanne Schiffbauer says:

    “BRAVO,” she said as she stood and applauded! The “she”
    would be me! Loved your post and appreciate the fact that you would share something so personal with me…and “us,”
    all the people who obviously love you. I said it before and,
    I’ll say it again…You are one of the most “genuine” people
    I know.

    Now that I know you “take requests,” I’ll ask you to write
    about something else!

    Again, Thank you!


    • joannefirth says:

      Thank you Joanne! This one REALLY pulled my heartstrings, as there was much more to it for me than just a group of old friends getting together. To write just about the 4 hours of the actual get together, wouldn’t have fit with me, there was so much more to it. Being my blog, and my story it can only be my perspective, thus the “emotional baggage”. I think there’s a saying, “You can always go home again” ….that saying is not entirely accurate for many reasons.

      Now that it’s written, my head is spinning and it will take a couple days to settle down. Going back to a time a place that is full of emotion is difficult. That particular time of my life, I would have to say, was of the more traumatic nature that other times.

      None the less, as my blog is called….Words, Just Words. 😉

      Thank you again! ❤


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