Sometimes when I think about being 28 years old, I cannot believe high school was 10 years ago. Other times, it seems like a completely different life. I was lucky enough to grow up in the same town and live in the same house my entire life. Here is the satellite view of South Whitley, "Indiana's Favorite Hometown." We pride ourselves on having one stoplight, and the two best restaurants in town include Carol's Corner and The Brownstone, neither of which have a website. That's small town life for you! It's not my present, but it holds a huge part of my past! I LOVED my small town growing up. My friends were important to me from a very early age. Jane Goble was my babysitter, along with countless other kids in town. Growing up at her house was truly one of the best parts of my life.
My four years at Whitko High School consisted of playing volleyball, basketball, and track, hanging out with friends, actually enjoying learning (geek alert!), and spending time with my boyfriend. Ah, yes, just like any other American girl, I lived for dates, football/basketball games, and prom with my high school sweetheart. He was a great guy who taught me a lot about love and relationships. A girl couldn't ask for a more stand up guy than my high school boyfriend. Because South Whitley is so remote, few people move in and few people move out, which results in the classic "everybody knows everybody" scenario. I had been friends with many of the kids in my class since first grade. That's just the way it goes when you graduate with only 120 or so people.
When it came time for my high school reunion, I was excited to see my old friends again. Even more so, I was excited for Ryan to meet them. He and I have such an awesome relationship, but we both wish we had a history dating back to high school rather than college. After driving back from Florida on a Saturday and dealing with a freezer fiasco, Ryan, Noah, Kya, and I jumped in the car again and drove to South Whitley. My dad and Danette watched Noah and Kya while Ryan and I drove "uptown" to The Brownstone for our reunion. My sister-in-law, Kristen, and I graduated together, so she and my brother rode along with us. Five years ago, I'm not sure I would've been so relaxed about my brother being at my reunion. I think the past 10 years gave me just the time I needed to grow up a bit and not throw a fit about his attendance. Look, we're all grownsed up and we're all grownsed up!!
Mindy (above) and I began a friendship in 1st grade. When we were young, she was one of the sweetest friends a girl could have. As we grew older, Mindy became the kind of person who was passionate about things she believed in most. She was always a loyal friend, a hard worker, and a person you just knew would use her life to help other people. And you know what, that's exactly what she does! Mindy also married her high school sweetheart, and they have a beautiful little boy together. As the president of our class, Mindy planned the majority of our reunion and did a fabulous job. Thanks again, Mindy!
The two guys above are two of the best friends you could wish for (Mrs. Smiley - try as I may, I still have to leave some prepositions at the end of my sentences). Seeing Shane (middle) and Seth (right) again was so much fun! They are both happily married now to two gorgeous women and seem happier than ever. My junior year, Shane always picked me up for school, and then during my senior year, Seth would pick me up. The irony of those situations is that I lived maybe 4 blocks from the school. But you know how it is - walking to school was not "cool," and neither was driving the family mini-van. In reality, though, these two guys meant more to me than just being my ride to school. They were laid back, hilarious, and loyal friends, and I couldn't be happier for them now.
The reunion itself really consisted of eating a pretty decent meal, looking at old pictures, and catching up with old friends. It was a really relaxed evening without an agenda, which is pretty much the perfect way to spend time with friends. Above you can see two gorgeous girls, Cara (left) and Rebekah (right). I played basketball with Cara for six years, but before that, I had a sincere jealously for her in elementary school. Her last name began with a "B," while mine began with a "T," which meant that Cara always got to be at the front of the line when we were arranged in "line order." Ahh...the stresses of those early years. Rebekah and I played some sports together in junior high, I believe, and we hung out quite a bit back in the middle school days. Although we live a few hours apart now, she has become a very important friend in my life. I always tell her that I wish we lived closer. I think we would have a lot of fun! We have very similar views and beliefs, and we're at the same stage in our lives. I have cherished our conversations and emails over the past few years, Rebekah, so thank you!
In this picture you will see Cara and Rebekah again. The other two women include my sister-in-law, Kristen (left) and Abbie. Kristen is the sweetest person ever, and only someone that sweet could put up with a brother of mine (love you, Dan)! :) In all seriousness, I have known Kristen since 6th grade, and our friendship has always come very easily. She was a girl who everyone liked - Kristen was kind to everyone who crossed her path. I am so happy that we're family and not just friends! Abbie and I were friends at an early age, and the one thing I remember most were her birthday parties. They were always a lot of fun, and everytime she came to one of my parties, she always gave me the best Hello Kitty gifts. Isn't it funny the impression you can leave on someone? She may not even remember doing that, but that's what I remember!
Jill (above) - where do I even begin? She was my first girlfriend ever. Before that, I only had little guy friends at the babysitter's and in kindergarten. Jill's birthday was only 4 days after mine, and the same OBGYN delivered both of us. There was a snowstorm when I was born, so we may have even been at the same hospital at the same time. Wild, huh? I told you it was a small town! Jill lived just outside of town on a farm, and we spent countless hours playing in the barns, dodging cows, pretending that we had stores in her parents' office. Writing those words just will never adequately describe the amount of fun we had in those early years. We stayed close through high school and played basketball and track together. After graduating from Whitko, we even ended up going to Hanover together, living just down the hall from one another. There were times in our lives that we stepped away from our friendship, but I think it was an important step for us to grow up and find out who we were away from each other. I still consider her one of my close friends, and I couldn't be happier with the man she chose to marry and the little boy they have together!
All in all, it was a great evening filled with reliving memories and catching up with old friends. I should've taken more pictures of some of my other friends. I loved seeing Natalie, Mariah, Rachel, Janelle, Nathan, JR, Rob, Bryan, Lisa, Tanner, and so many others. It's hard to believe that we'll be 38 at our next reunion, but I can't wait to see who shows up and what has transpired over the previous 10 years. Ryan was a GREAT date that night! He has heard so many stories and has met several of my old friends, so he fit in like he was always there. I'm glad I went and look forward to the next reunion in 2020!