Brandon, the kids and I spent the past three days in College Station. We spent lots of time with Brandon's grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin. We went out to eat, swimming, and to church. We chatted, colored, and went on hikes (well, Brandon and Brooklyn did. I hate going outside. We've discussed this before. And my dislike for mosquitoes, which was in full force this weekend. And it hit 96 yesterday, once again making me ask, as I do every summer, why do we live in Texas??).
The culmination of these activities, and the reason for this being the weekend we came to visit, was a baseball reunion for the select team Brandon coached while we were in college. He got his coaching started with the Twelve Baseball Academy in College Station as the assistant coach to a guy named Brian, but whom all the kids call Lefty. Brandon was working on his Bachelor's and Lefty was working on his Doctorate. Since the end of their coaching together, Brandon graduated, he and I have moved 3 times and had 2 children. Brian finished his doctorate, married Ashley, and moved to Ohio where he is a professor at Bowling Green.
I LOVE these people.
I had only met Ashley once, when she and Brian were dating, and I just instantly loved her. I feel like we've been friends forever, and that doesn't happen with just anyone. And while Brandon and Brian were coaching together, I was so thankful for a loving, Christian friend for Brandon to coach with. They were a great team and did a great job with the boys they coached those two years together.
Brian and Ashley came in town for a few days, so the parents of the kids he and Brandon used to coach decided to host a reunion party for them. These kids were 12 and 13 when they were all on the team together, so now they have all either graduated high school in the past week or are going to be seniors in the upcoming school year. It was surreal to see how much they had all grown, how mature they had become, and that they were actually speaking to me. You see, most 13-year-old boys are terrified of girls, so no matter how much I tried to converse with them back in the day, I never got much in return.
We had a great barbecue meal and the boys played basketball in the pool for hours. Brooklyn made friends with every female at the party, and Peyton was content to be passed around from parent to parent. We survived a day without Brooklyn getting a nap and actually finding a quiet, out of the way place to nurse Peyton twice in a house full of boys.
We got to the Pye's house at about 2:00 and left around 7:30, and in that short amount of time I relived an insanely important time of my life with people I had forgotten made such an impact on me. Brandon and I got married just two weeks before the Twelve's first tournament game. Those parents were shocked to have a coach who was married, because he looked (and was) so young. They loved us both, constantly bragging on Brandon for being a good example for their kids as a baseball player and as a person. They made me feel involved at all the tournament games, which I went to each weekend because I had no other commitments like, you know, children.
Brandon and I had just started our life together, we were still in school, and we were away from all family doing it. I never really knew it at the time, but all these baseball playing boys and their families were helping us through one of the hardest transitions of life. They were the first people I can remember ever treating me like an adult. See, these were the first people I ever knew who had no prior knowledge of Tracey Allen, they only knew Tracey Strother. And let's face it: Tracey Strother is a much better person to know. Being there with them all again tonight brought back vivid memories of moms sharing stories of their newlywed lives, about college, about their first jobs and decisions to have kids. I learned about which school districts paid the best, where everyone went to church, what benefits there are to doing x, y and z extra curricular activities, and that if you have 3 kids and want a fourth, you have to be prepared to have triplets so you end up with six. True story. Those triplets just turned 12 :).
Probably the funniest thing today was how life just comes full circle. Five years ago I was playing with all the ball player's younger siblings when they were 7, 8, 9ish years old. Now, teens or close to being teens, those same kids were the ones swimming with Brooklyn, helping her eat her chips and salsa, tossing balls and sitting with her in their laps. I just had to smile at how we all pay it forward.
I was indescribably sad when we had to say goodbye and drive back home this evening. Those baseball boys were so good for Brandon, especially since his JV team this year had no drive, no competitive nature and no love for the game of baseball, all of which his Twelve boys have and then some. Those parents that always welcomed us into their cars, homes and lives reunited with us as if no time had passed at all. They and the siblings doted on my children and loved them just as they always had us. And Brian and Ashley, I realize, are friends who feel like family. And those are the best kinds of friends. We've got some of those kinds of friends here in Rosenberg, and back in Dallas, too. But not many. They're special. I'm feeling very blessed today to have relived a time that I didn't think was so extraordinary at the time, but now am honored to have had. And I look forward to a future summer when our whole family travels to Ohio for the Reds, the Indians, and the Tigers stadiums to add to our stadium watched list.