By Thonie Hevron
As an Army brat, we traveled while I was growing up. One of my earliest memories was of making friends with Patsy Simmons, another brat in my military housing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. We were friends for the three years I lived there. When we moved back to the states, I never saw her again. I didn’t have much time to make new friends in Tacoma, Washington (Fort Lewis posting) in the next six months because we were unpacking, then packing again to go home to Mill Valley, California. Before I was twelve, we’d bought and sold three homes in that small town. Moving seemed to be a part of life like taxes. In one school, my class began to learn old math, the next school, I’d just missed learning “new” math. I still have issues with the multiplications tables. Still, I became adept at making friends, because I had to do it over and over.
All this has less to do with computation skills than giving you a glimmer of who I am. As a kid and young adult, I yearned for one place to call home. In 1966, my mother finally found a house she wanted to settle in Mill Valley. After attending three different schools in in this quaint Northern California town, I enrolled in “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” elementary school. I started in the sixth grade. Being tall for my age, I was always at the end of the line. No worries, I was used to it. But at Mount Carmel, there was a girl even taller! I began to feel at home as I caught up socially and academically. Thus began a fifty-two year friendship with Helen.
High school was even more satisfying. At Marin Catholic, I was introduced to college prep education. In this school, there were children of “successful” parents—one owned a Ford dealership, another was the grandson of a major maritime shipping line, many were children of attorneys and doctors. Being the child of a master sergeant, then a Deputy US Marshal, I felt like I didn’t fit in. While my mother made most of my clothes, I didn’t appreciate the uniqueness. “Store-bought” is what the other kids had; why couldn’t I have that, too? Oh, we don’t have enough money? Okay.
Scholastically, I was an average student. I chose to daydream and goof off rather than apply myself. My friends at Marin Catholic centered on Jan (who came to MC in our sophomore year) and Helen. I felt gratified when the “popular” kids spent time with me and my pals. We didn’t hang out a lot because in those days, I eschewed the prom queen and cheer leaders for “hippier” people. Socially, I was sure I was somewhere in the middle between the “ducks” and the “cool kids.” I’m not so sure, now.
All my moving around made me want to be like everyone else even more.
When my class graduated, my friends went on to college and flourished as nurses, teachers, a Stanford professor, top executives with IBM and such. I spent the next thirty-five years in police stations.
Fast forward forty-four years (OMG!): Since our 40th high school reunion, many of us have found we enjoy each other’s company so much that we don’t want to wait another decade to visit. In the four years since our big “40th,” many of us have gotten to know each other even better. Annual dinner parties, picnics and even a girls’ sleep-over one weekend are examples of the fun we have together.
Our annual 2014 dinner party was scheduled for August 26 at Rickey’s in Novato, Ca. I had a reading in Santa Rosa, 20 miles to the north, earlier in the day so I told the girls that I’d be a little late for pre-event drinks at the bar. On the drive down I made better time than I anticipated, so I was excited to see my friends and a little breathless at rushing around.
I walked into the bar and a dozen of my dear friends looked up and spontaneously cheered my arrival. “Hurray for Thonie!” and “Here’s our published author!” My chest could barely contain the gratitude I felt for all these accomplished women who saluted me. I felt like not only had I achieved my dreams but I had done something worthy of their attention. Truth is they probably would have shouted a grand hello to me anyway. I didn’t care. The honest spontaneity of the greeting made this a significant event. In years past, I might have yearned for it. I can’t remember that far back. But, it came that day, on its own schedule.
It was over quickly, as I grabbed a glass of champagne and joined them. I’ve never been good at being the focus of attention, even when I secretly enjoyed it.
No matter. It is in my heart forever.