• Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Right out of the blue Russell recently got a phone call from an old college roommate named Mark, who wanted us to get together with him and his wife and several other ECU couples.
Each of the guys had been a college roommate of Russell’s at one time or another and they had all kept in close touch.
We made plans for an exciting weekend: dinner with five other couples at Mark and Susan’s home in Raleigh on a Friday night followed by the ECU/UNC game in Chapel Hill on a Saturday.
This worked out great since our daughter Kelly and her husband, Chuck, live in Raleigh. We spent two nights with them and had a blast.

And though it turned out that ECU lost the game, Russell says his group won at tailgating.
He had to explain this to me as I’d never heard the expression – this was just one of many unknown sayings I heard that weekend.
FYI, he said in the old days it meant they partied hardier, but nowadays, it meant they had better food.
It’s funny how age and priorities change us.
I didn’t go to the game, but instead, spent the day with my granddaughters, Madison and Carly, and of course, Kelly.

For a month leading up to the weekend, Russell would say, “I wonder what ever happened to?” or else, “I wonder if they remember when?”
It was neat to see this much excitement and anticipation in my husband, who is normally very laid back, relatively quiet and shall we say, not quite as social as I am? In fact, when we attend parties or events, I lose track of time and never want to leave. Russell, on the other hand, glances at his watch often and catches up with me several times during the night, saying, “Let’s go!” before I finally give in.

However, on this fabulous night, I don’t think anyone wanted to leave because we were enjoying ourselves so much. The food was absolutely wonderful, complete with hors d’oeuvres outside on a beautiful star-lit night.
Then we took our seats inside and ate a fabulous meal, followed by dessert and lively conversation.
Since all of these couples have remained friends, Russell was in the “hot seat” being asked questions; and I of course, chimed in with my two cents’ worth fairly often.
I even learned some interesting things about Russell that I never knew! Hmmmm … I immediately bonded with all of the wives (and husbands) and it felt like we were all old friends – so much so, that we’re already planning our next event.
One person mentioned a cruise to celebrate the guy’s 60th birthday next spring. You KNOW I’m into that idea.

The Internet is a wonderful thing in that Mark was able to find Russell through a Google search, which showed where he worked.
Mark called Russell and they exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Each one gave the other one a synopsis of their life: family, career, opinions on current events and then, yes, dare I say? Gossip!
I know men don’t gossip – yeah, right – and Russell would say it was just the facts, but some interesting things came out of all of this.

On the ride up, he shared some of this conversation that he’d had with Mark.
He also recanted many original stories back in the day and I actually loved seeing this part of my husband: almost a “new” Russell, a side of him I’d not seen often.
He laughed at the memory of old pranks and familiar customs, discussed quirky professors with impossible classes and lit it up at the milestone of actually graduating with a business degree from ECU.
This, he said, he often doubted would happen. It was a LONG four years.
And yet, he graduated a quarter early because he went to summer school one year.

When we arrived at their house, Mark and Susan ran out and greeted us.
The guys hugged like there was no tomorrow.
It was so heart-warming. Then I met the other couples and Russell met some of the wives for the first time: Bill “Turk” and Gail, Allen and Beth, and Matt and Angela.
Within moments, there were back pats, high-fives and loud laughter with terrific bonding as they discussed the old days: going downtown, football games, dinner out and just general college life.
During the night, I would hear bits and pieces of their conversation and I loved it.
I got all tingly inside.

The gift of friendship never ends and I’m always touched by new friendships that touch our very soul.
As we said our goodbyes, I gave everyone a copy of my book and Susan gave each of us a bottle of the best barbecue sauce I’ve ever tasted.
I can’t wait to see them all again.
I hope our next get together involves a travel agent.

Ann Ipock “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” amipock@ec.rr.com www.annipock.com.

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