Yes, you read that right. Arkansas.
Now, my regular readers might be slightly curious as to why a Jersey girl would up and leave her home state, family, friends, and an endless supply of White Castle hamburgers to live where biscuits n’ gravy…hell, anything n’ gravy is le plat du jour.
In short, I was bored. I was dating a guy from my hometown who was in the air force, and he got stationed at Eaker Air Force base. After he had lived there for a month or so, he asked me to move down. I was basically unemployed, just working some part time freelance gig, and I thought it might be fun to see a different part of the country.
The guy – let’s call him Chester – isn’t worth wasting too much space on. He took his job way too seriously for my taste. If our lawn was a half inch too tall he’d cancel plans we had to mow it…after all, you never know if some captain is going to drive by our house with a ruler in his glove box and a chip on his shoulder! He might wind up on report!
Besides he cared more about his dopey motorcycle than me.
Blytheville was certainly a bit of a culture shock for me. I wasn’t just visiting this town…I was living here. At first it sucked. My boyfriend was away a lot on temporary duty assignments, and my job(s) weren’t that great.
First I worked out of a temp agency as a collections agent in a factory that made automobile parts. Sigh…doesn’t even sound sucky? I spent all day on mailing out invoices and then on the phone trying to collect on them. At lunch I sat in this giant room with all the factory employees who worked on the line. They would stare at me…I felt out of place in my office attire when they were all dressed in t-shirts and baseball caps.
After that job ended I waitressed at a Mexican restaurant that was attached to the Holiday Inn. Yee haw! That job sucked worse. I remember having to work Super Bowl Sunday, and a table of 10 who I’d slaved pretty hard for left me nothing but an empty basket of tortilla chips for a tip.
The worst was my attempt at selling. I got a trial gig with an outfit that sold matted and framed prints of Fox Hunts and wild grouse being flushed out of the brush by cocker spaniels or whatever the hell dog flushes out fowl. It didn’t work out well at all. I may have to save that story for its very own blog post….
But then I got a job on base thanks to one of Chester’s co-workers. I worked for the Morale, Wellness & Recreation Department, designing flyers, newsletters and calendars, and taking photos of base events. It worked out great – way better than assembly lines and enchiladas. I was working in my field again, and the hours suited my style…7 am to 3 pm – in and out early.
Chester was back on base permanently, and we began to develop a group of friends. We all hung out regularly at the Officer’s Club, and eventually began to hang out at each other’s homes. I can remember spending one night playing poker at a fellow Lieutenant’s house, drunk and laughing, until almost dawn.
I can recall a barbecue we hosted where I almost set fire to our house. The ground meat I bought for the burgers was not nearly lean enough, and left unattended on the grill for a few minutes while I was running my mouth about one thing or another, they burst into flames and singed the side of the house.
My point is that every weekend, and sometimes once or twice during the week, we had somewhere to go – a party or a dinner, movies or dancing – with this group of friends.
The photo at the beginning of the post? It’s of me and my girls in Memphis…the corner of Beale and who knows…I was drunk and having a blast. It was a bachelorette weekend for the girl in front wearing pink with the long brown hair. We danced and drank and partied that whole weekend. We talked about our husbands/boyfriends on the ride back to Blytheville – intimate girlfriend stuff.
When things between Chester and I began to go sour I decided to move back home. The base was on the nation’s closure list, so my job was going to end eventually anyway. My girls and I kept in touch for a while. I can remember getting a letter or two – this was in the days before email. One was getting divorced, the other was getting married. Life moved on. Then we just lost touch. I used to send Christmas cards, but when I stopped getting them back, they eventually got scratched out of my address book, and out of my life.
But do you want to hear the freakiest thing? I can’t remember their names. I spent all this time with these women, and I can only remember ONE of the girl’s names – the one with the curly brown hair. Angela Hicks…I’m not sure why her name stuck in my head.
Mabye it’s because of that scene in the movie “Big” when Elizabeth Perkins complains of her secretary writing her soon-to-be-married name over and over again – “Mrs Judy Hicks, Mrs Donald Hicks, Mrs Judy Mitchelson-Hicks.” Perhaps her name just reminded me of that scene and I always remembered it.
In any case, I find this worrisome and sad. Here I have photos of these women in my photo album after all these years…I still keep our photos, but I can’t for the life of me remember their names. I look back on the time I spent with them as good times…really good times. Times when it was fun to have a gang to hang out with, a group that you called your own – where you were an insider. And yet, the most important link to them…their name…is gone.
I really seriously need to look into that Luminosity site. Should I be worried? Is this normal?