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You can never go home again

I am from Klamath Falls. I suppose, after this summer, I don’t have to explain where that is. By the way, my family has not been made destitute by the drought, as we are not farmers. We don’t even have a back yard. It is a crappy little town, with nothing to offer to people who hate rodeos and country music. Some may argue that the rugged scenery and close proximity to good skiing and Crater Lake, as well as the brand new Running Y resort (complete with an Arnold Palmer designed golf course) are great assets to the community. That may be, but I hate skiing and golf, and I’ve been to Crater Lake a thousand times. It’s beautiful, but you know, it lost its novelty long ago.

Most people, if they haven’t gotten married or pregnant by the time they graduate (if they graduate) run far away. Many come back either to run family businesses or because they found out they were not as cool in college as they were in high school. I call that Little Turd in Big Pond Syndrome. Some come back because they like it. Some of us just come back to visit, to humor our parents, for weddings, and, of course, for funerals; yet another of my friends has died. He crashed into a tree.

He is the first person in my graduating class (Klamath Union High School, Class of 1995) to die. It’s an unbelievably sad event because Trevor was a friend to everyone. As a friend of mine said, “this will be the biggest reunion we will ever have.” He’s right. We all hate the people who are not in our cliques. Except Trevor. He managed to transcend that.

Klamath will be brown by now. Even when it is covered in snow it is brown because snow gets dirty fast. The trees will have lost their leaves and it will be cold, yet sunny. The whole town is ugly, and I cannot name a place there that I think is even remotely attractive, unless it is indoors, and even then I have a hard time thinking of something.

For the first time ever, I actually want to hang out with the people I went to high school with because they are the only people who truly understand what I am feeling. They feel the same loss that I do. Some feel it even more.

On Thursday, I will don the black suit I got strictly for law school interviews and similar occasions. Unbelievably, it is the suit’s third funeral and I have only worn it to one law school event. I will see a bunch of people I haven’t seen in years, many of whom I never planned or wanted to see ever again.

We will talk about ourselves, after we have exhausted talking about Trevor. I guess it’s not a bad thing. It seems like a natural thing to do for a group of people who have not seen each other for six years. Who got married, which slackers are still in college (only about 10 percent of my class actually graduated or are on their way to graduating) and who is leading an ignominious existence? Normally, I love gossip. Gossip for me, is like what spinach is for Popeye. But I don’t care anymore.

Trevor’s little sister is an only child now. I cry every time I think of her and his parents. What is it like for a parent to pack up the belongings of a child who should have died long after they have?

I woke up this morning with a broken heart. Sure, I had not spoken to Trevor since Christmas, but that does not mean I cared about him any less. He had been the object of a huge crush of mine in eighth grade. My notebooks were covered with his name in tiny letters, barely legible. Most of all, I did not want him to know and reject me.

We grew up and I never dated Trevor, and that is okay. I was not his type, but I did have the honor of being his friend. He helped me make the difficult transition from Klamath Falls to college at the University of Oregon. He helped me move my stuff and we talked about difficult breakups that we’d both just been through, making the first few days less lonely and scary.

After my freshman year, I would see him at football games and at the bars, as well as at gatherings in Klamath at Christmas time. He’d always say, “Rose, I just can’t believe you’re a sorority girl. You! I can’t believe it!”

I’m not going to hear that anymore. I will also regrettably have one less phone call to make at Christmas time, when we all posse up to go to bars and parties. Christmas will be dark this year for the members of the class of 1995, for Trev’s family and all his other friends.