It was October of 1986. I was ready for the Teen activity at our church. We were going on a Hayride. I had on my yellow and white striped sweater from the Gap and my County Seat jeans were pegged. I’m sure I had Keds on. It was a perfect day for a hayride. The air was cool, but it was sunny and the sky was blue. I was ready for fun.
We all met at the church and piled into vans and buses and headed out to a farm. I wish I could remember where it was at, but this was before I could drive and directions did not really concern me. It was the perfect location for a hayride. There was a large barn with a loft where we had refreshments. The area was wooded and shady. I remember sitting in the hay wagon and sneezing as the tractor pulled us down a winding trail.
And then the fun began. Teenage boys and girls do not sit on hayrides. They have hay fights. They stuff hay down shirts and in hair and in places hay should not be. This was not innocent fun. This was war and a little flirting. Okay, a lot of flirting. By the end of the trail I was a hot, sweaty, wheezing mess with frizzy hay-filled hair. I am allergic to hay. I was really wishing I had not worn a sweater. I was dying of thirst and I couldn’t breathe.
After the hayride, we had hot dogs and there was a bonfire. It really was fun activity. But the part I remember most fondly was the ride home. I ended up sitting next to Larry on the bus. He had a girlfriend at the time, but she was not there and we were just talking. I was not intimidated by him as I was with other boys. He was just Larry. Happy to be where he was at the moment. This is one of the things I love about him. He is in the moment. He is not looking over his shoulder for something better when he is with you. And it doesn’t matter who you are when he is talking to you he is with you.
After the bus dropped us off at the church a bunch of us were hanging out in the parking lot not wanting the fun to end. Larry was still there because his Mom was late. This would become a repeated scene throughout our youth group experience. Larry would always be the last one picked up. His mom was late that night and since my brother drove me to the activity and he was fooling around with his friends we were stuck. After awhile we got thirsty so we decided to run across the street to Sylvia’s Sub Shop to get something to drink. We spent many days after school at Sylvia’s waiting for late practice or a basketball game to start.
Jeff gave me some money for a pop for both of us and off Larry and I ran. We had to hurry because this was before the days of cell phones and we did not want to miss his Mom picking him up. So we got our pops and started to run back. I was awkwardly running with a pop in each hand. Larry was much faster than I was and I was just trying to keep my chubby self up with him. I was doing alright until we came to a short, decorative chain fence that went around the perimeter of the parking lot. Larry easily jumped over it. I did not. I caught my ankle on the chain as I was going over and instead of dropping both of the pops like a normal person, I held on tight and I fell on my face. Bam!
And what did Larry do? He just kept on running. He did not even notice that I was laying on the asphalt now sticky with pop. He was definitely in the moment of running across that parking lot. I remember watching him run away as I lay there with my shin throbbing in pain. Somehow I managed to keep one of the pops from spilling so I picked myself up and limped the rest of the way.
My brother was waiting for his pop. I said sorry. I spilled yours.