Thirty years have come and gone since I spent my senior year in high school with 502 other bright-eyed youngsters in the windswept capitol of cattle country. We didn’t think of ourselves as youngsters, of course. We felt capable, mature, invincible, and many of us at least, ready to leave.

I left. Texas A&M, UT Law School, Dallas, Fort Worth, St. Croix in the USVI, then Houston and now Nowheresville. I left, and so did my parents, so for many years I didn’t go back. But lately I’ve returned time and again.

Each time I visit Amarillo, I am struck anew by how lucky I was to grow up there, and how deep the connection is between the people I shared those years with. Whether I write about (the Emily series), live it, or just think about it, my heart returns.

Thirty years is a long time. It’s time for us to lose friends (the two I leaned on in the picture below, Kim and Rusty), to become better people, to face hardships (like Judy, to the right), to remain dear friends (Tracy, the one about to hyperextend my legs, LOL) to lose touch (my partner, Mark, holding my left leg on the right), and to follow our dreams (see video below of my talented friends Lance and Brad, performing Another One Bites the Dust, the song of my high school years—our mascot was the “Golden Sandstorm,” our chant Blow Sand Blow still makes me cringe and laugh, and our tagline “This Dirt Can Hurt” is one of the only redeeming elements of our mascot).


Video of Brad and Lance in Another One Bites the Dust (very, very well done): HERE.

(For more pics, go HERE)

The smallish thirty-year reunion this past weekend reaffirmed who I am. Pamela from Amarillo. It reminded me of what I loved (Friday night lights). Of what I regret (that’s a very long list, but I’d top it with repeating what I heard without thinking for myself). Of what I chafed against (organized religion).

Of what I miss (the people).

I met my husband in his hometown, so I love bringing him to mine, seeing him in deep conversation with the guys I adored from my AP classes, my true soul mates, the nerdy smart kids who saw past my Barbie doll exterior. He enjoys seeing me do things and act in ways I don’t do in my introverted writer life. Dancing with a group of girls to our buddy’s 80s rock band playing John Cougar (Mellenkamp). Hugging, squealing, rocking to and fro. Where is his serious wife who keeps to herself and talks to her imaginary friends, taking breaks only to walk dogs and feed livestock? Singing all the words to every song when I can’t remember the lyrics to the ones I hear on the radio today.

Going back, remembering, reliving, reconnecting bring me closer to that woman I am today. It brings the journey into sharp focus. Each milestone on that journey sparkling in brilliant color and making sense in the context of then and now in a way that they don’t, bogged down in the every day.


These people, and many others who couldn’t make the trip, these are the people in the world, other than my closest family, with whom I have the most in common, with whom I share the bulk of my memories. God bless each and every one of them and keep them safe until the next time we meet.

Thank you, AHS class of 1985. Thank you Amarillo, Texas.

That’s all I’ve got.


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4 Responses to Who says you can’t go back?

  1. Eric Hutchins says:

    Wow, that really moved me. It was really good.
    I appreciate you taking me along with you back there and meeting those people that so obviously shaped a large part of who you are. It sounds like a wonderful place to grow up. It makes me think about my experience at the same age, and while it was wonderful, it was so very different, and there is a pang in me that I will never have had the kind of high school experience that you did. You were lucky, and it is wonderful that you recognize that.

    • Pamela says:

      Ours were soooo different. Yours, in 3 schools. Country Day, laid back, small, permissive. Suffield Academy, private, exclusive, cold!, all male. Good Hope on the sea shore, there only to finish but not to belong. Mine: Friday night lights, the Bible Belt, everybody in everybody’s business, bus trips to neighboring towns hours away, UIL. I knew only one thing, though. the only thing missing from your experience was what I had. Whereas I got none of the things you did. Put them all together, and wow what a wonderful mix.

      Like us.

      And I wish I’d been there with you or you with me, too.

  2. Elaine A. says:

    One of my older brothers was class of ’85 and I remember being 10 yrs old and going to his “boring” graduation. 😉 But I also remember what a great time in his life (and even mine) that was. The mid 80’s were just GOOD (despite some of our wardrobe choices maybe…lol!), you know?

    Glad you were able to attend your reunion. I love going to them because that was such a special time in our life’s history. And you’re right, those people… well, they are the best!

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