Ah, Corvallis. The unescapable. Even though my family has relocated and we no longer have a presence in this town, it's still my little town and it's still full of familiar faces. You can't walk through the streets without running into someone or recognizing someone. The population is 50,000 strong, but it's still small enough to know a little about a lot of people.
I rolled into town and into the Beanery, an old haunt mostly because I worked there and it's such an establishment that it's hard to stay away. Right away I ran into K. and his family, a little funny because we both now live in Tokyo where we're really not very likely to meet accidentally; but the first 5 minutes in Corvallis and there he is.
After grabbing coffee, I headed to China Delight to meet T., who incidentally also worked at the Bean at one point, but not how I know him. Lately he's been training at massage school and is very into kung-fu and other martial arts. I ordered the sesame tempeh, of course - my number one Corvallis food craving - and we caught up. At the next booth, I nodded to a guy I recognized - an older guy whom I couldn't place at first. Then I realized - he had been in my swing dance class I had taken while in high school. I remember him stepping on my feet.
Then off to J. and M.'s apartment on Witham Hill - almost like living in the woods, so cold and green there. They were housebound with the flu, but still managed to get up the muster to play some coffee-table quarter stakes Bingo. Great kids - to be married this summer and maybe headed to grad school for MFAs in the fall.
And finally to see dear B., play Scrabble, and sit around being us. My best friend.
Even though so many of us have moved away, still, so many of us are drawn back there and we can still meet in the old places. There was some common wisdom when we were kids, living here in high school, that the town was unescapable, and that we would be stuck here if we didn't try like hell to get out. At the time it seemed like a curse, doomed to smalltowndom forever. But now it's pleasant to meet, now that so many of us have gotten out, it's good to come back, to reconnect, and to revel in the same smalltowndom that we so abhorred when we were 15.