Dogwood Fever

This weekend is right in the middle of Palestine, Texas’ Dogwood Festival, scheduled around the lovely little trees’ top blooming window. When I actually lived in Palestine as a kid, I didn’t especially appreciate the city. I just lived there, you know? But now, dogwoods have a way of drawing me back to my hometown, whether in imagination or in real life. In fact, the fiction series I’m currently writing? I set the stories in Palestine.

Two years ago, I drove to Palestine for a photo session with the estimable Stuart Whitaker. We found some dogwoods blooming within reach, and Stuart managed to get a couple of good pictures of me, a pretty impressive feat. See?

I drove by the house where my family lived, my old elementary schools, and the railroad office that was my dad’s headquarters for twenty or so years. And naturally, I had lunch at Little Mexico. So in some ways, spending half a day in town felt like home. Yet it was oddly different from being part of the community as a teenager.

For one thing, “high school peer pressure” is long gone. Actually, in a sense, it doesn’t even exist. I mean yes, there’s pressure to conform, which affects some students more than others. But in reality, there’s no such thing as everyone in high school being “peers” in the first place. Complex social strata exist. No one can explain them, but they effectively keep everyone in whatever group they belong to.

Now, I was introverted and not part of the “popular” groups. Don’t get me wrong–I never felt unpopular, either. No one ever bullied or ostracized me. I was simply a wallflower by nature, content to hang out with fellow introverts.

Now, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been reconnecting with a bunch of high school classmates. Meeting them now as adults, as true equals. Finding that we’ve all matured into competent grownups, and that I have much in common with many of them.

“You can’t go back again,” the saying goes. As near as I can figure, that should read…

“You can go back to where, but you can’t go back to when.”

And that’s often a very good thing.

I mean, who seriously wants to be a teenager again?

Thanks for reading,

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