Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Memory: Angie Through Two Decades

November 26, 2007

Two decades sounds hefty, doesn't it? Yesterday my friend Angie celebrated her 40th birthday. I wasn't really sure until today that she actually turned 40 because I always got mixed up about Angie's age; but indeed, Tracy confirmed for me that Angie is now 40. I don't know why Tracy and I weren't with Angie yesterday; it is really inexcusable to miss one's 40th birthday. I hope that a trip to Atlanta is in the near future, but for now, I shall gift Angie with a little photo-journey down memory lane...

Angie came on the scene as a sophomore when I began my senior year at Milligan College. I sort of think she transferred over from ETSU, but I'm kind of fuzzy with those details. I have no idea how we became friends, but she lived a few doors down from me in Sutton Hall. She had great clothes and a hair crimper. She had a blue Nissan with "AngieKaye" on the license plate, and she was from nearby Kingsport. Her high school boyfriend was named Paul, and we had many great evenings of angst together over our lost loves. Because our college didn't have sororities, we made up our own. We designed fabulous t-shirts that we thought no one could read, although, of course, we did have some Greek scholars at our college that probably could have read them. We took long drives after supper in Angie's car, and went dancing at every opportunity. Angie's dad was an executive at Aladdin Plastics, so she always got us good laundry baskets. And for reasons that are too difficult to explain, we called each other "Rowena," and so we were referred to as "The Rowenas."

Let me explain the photo above. As part of the required Humanities course at our college, you had to do a final project. I think this was Tracy's project, although I'm not sure about that. But obviously, we are dressed to represent Fashion in the 20th Century. That's me in the 60s garb. Angie is in the 80s ripped jeans and Flashdance t-shirt next to me. I have no idea what decade Suzie, in the floor-length dress, or Kelly, in the pantsuit, represent! I think Tazzy and Kathy in the back row are from the 50s, and who can even imagine why Stymie, the blond guy, is in the picture.

Here is Angie graduating in 1990 with Claudia, who was a little crazy. I had already graduated and been married a year by the time Angie finished, and I believe she lived at home for a year after this. But again, my memory is a little blurry during the time in my life....

I do know, though, that Randy's and my apartment was THE place to be. All our friends fondly remember Poplar Street; in fact, a poem and a song have been written about those days on what are known as The Tree Streets in Johnson City, Tennessee. In fact, this is a good time to insert the lyrics of "Poplar Street Serenade," written and sung by our friend Steve Campbell:

Poplar Street Serenade

We rolled down the hill as the others watched on
We played in the rain and the streets as we danced
Kicking up water from the sidewalk streams
Oncoming cars flashed their headlights as we ran
through their beams.

We lay in the street and we stare at the sky
The moon on my face and the rain in my eyes
Thought of the time we've spent here in this place
Will echo and fade with the moments we try to retrace

Cool autumn air surrounds us all
The striped canvas chairs on the porch
Cradle our bodies and nurse our aching heads
from the wild time we had the night before
Warming our souls from within
Forgiving the sins of the days we leave behind
As we write another verse to the song
We call the Poplar Street Serenade

Coffee in one hand I wrap up with the other
In a tattered old quilt that was made by my mother
Swap stories of lover neurotic lament
Of hours and heart and money that we wished we'd not spent

Slump down in my chair and I take it all in
Life's silly whims I don't have to defend
With all of these people so careless and free
All drawn by the seasons and mountains of East Tennessee

Life was good and sweet and easy back then. We all lived on practically nothing, listened to a lot of music, and shared our clothes and whatever food we might have. Although I was married and madly in love, I could aptly share my single friends' heartaches and woes. And Angie had her fair share of them... In the picture above we are at an annual all-day concert on the Nolichuckey River called Rockin' on the River. There's nothing more fun than sweltering in the Tennessee sunshine with your friends.

But eventually it was time to move on. Randy and I moved to Oxford, Ohio, so he could attend graduate school at Miami University. Suzie (in the blue) lived in nearby Dayton, and Angie and Tracy came up to visit every other month. Jesse was born in 1993, and, as the first baby born to the Rowenas, he was well loved.

And so, fast forward 14 years, and here we are now (well, actually last year) with our own girls (we three also have boys). That me with Laurel, Tracy with Savannah, and Angie with Evie. Tracy still lives in Johnson City and Angie lives in Atlanta. We should see each other more--much, MUCH more--but in this decade of life one is consumed with raising children and navigating full-fledged adult lives. Now we have homes instead of tiny apartments, real furniture instead of our parents' cast-offs, and I venture to guess that we would not enjoy sweltering in the sun anymore. Except maybe for Brian and the Nightmares.

I have known Angie for 20 years, and this is what I can say about her: she is kind and gentle. She has the most beautiful voice. She is funny and beautiful, and she never has a bad word to say about anyone. She is, above all, an encourager. I pray that her life will be full of the love and good will that she so abundantly gives.

Happy Birthday, Rowena. (And if it's not your 40th birthday, it's Rowena's fault.)

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Monday, November 26, 2007 - Yeah, I'm 40

Posted by b-day girl (

Wow! I feel really, really loved. Your post was the best birthday present ever. Here's something important to know about Sarah: Sarah is the kind of friend that cherishes you and makes you feel cherished. Sarah loves deeply and completely.
I love you, Rowena. Thanks for always making me feel way more special than I really am!

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Monday, November 26, 2007 - ick

Posted by b-day girl take 2 (

OK--one more thing: I simply can't forgive you for some of those pictures. YIKES! Was I really so hideous?

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