20 years ago today, the three McMahon, children formerly of Oil City, Pennsylvania, had their first day of sixth, fourth and first grade in Flower Mound, Texas. 20 years! I remember the flight from Pittsburgh to Dallas on January 7: it was snowy, and the pilot announced that the only runway open was the shortest. They were going to give it a try!
We made it safely.
We lived in a Homewood Suites for a few days in Las Colinas, then moved into the house in Flower Mound where Mum and Dad still live. The same house that now Mum threatens to dismantle our childhood bedroom furniture to clear out our rooms. If I had known this 20 years ago, I might have asked the movers to just leave my mattress, and I’d keep my clothes in the moving boxes. (In the spring of 2014, when I made a special trip home to remove my belongings from said room, I still found the little numbered moving stickers on things. Mementos.)
Back to January 15, 1996. It was the day after MLK Day, so instead of starting school the middle of the previous week, it was decided starting after the three day weekend was best. That day, I wore jeans, a B.U.M. Equipment salmon, navy, white striped shirt with a denim shirt open over top. Later that year, I realized that a BOY in my band class named Jonathan had the same shirt. I made a bold unisex fashion statement in 1996.
I remember all the colors of Forestwood Middle School, the expansiveness of the band hall, the two professional style gyms. But the most important thing in Forestwood Middle School on January 15, 1996 was my future husband. Just take a moment and take that in. When our family of five was trying our best, and honestly sometimes flailing, to adjust to living in a different state with an entirely different culture, the man I would later choose to spend my life with was one row over in Mr. Bartholomew’s world geography class. He was wearing oversized Tommy Hilfiger polos he was STILL wearing when we started dating in 2005. Hand to G-d, this is true.
Josh’s family moved into the neighborhood in time for him to begin the school year at Forestwood. His mother still lives in that house too. Meaning, our parents live five minutes apart, and we have the easiest holiday schedule of any married couple. I think I have Mr. Bartholomew’s world geography class to thank for that. Speaking of Mr. Bartholomew, I did actually put some effort into locating him to share this story with him. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. He occasionally attended mass at St. Francis in Grapevine where my family goes, but I think the last time I saw him there was the last millennium.
Josh and I did not have anymore classes together after that during middle school. Our middle school was divided into two “teams” (maybe where I got my affection for the word). Because I started mid-year, I was just placed onto a team. The algorithm or whatever that made schedules didn’t put us together in 7th and 8th. Our last class together was 9th grade geometry (it’s a g thang baby). Josh doesn’t remember me in either class; he remembers me around the time we graduated high school. Today is the day we met and I remember him, but Josh’s 20 year anniversary of knowing me will happen sometime in 2022. Maybe we can find Mr. Bartholomew by then.
For a while, the children in my neighborhood were rezoned to another middle school, but now they are back to going to Forestwood. Before Mr. Bartholomew, I should probably thank Mum and Dad and their real estate agent Mary Helen for deciding on that house, in that neighborhood with that zoning. I actually won’t go so far to thank Herb Baum for moving Quaker State to Dallas, because it destroyed a town already on the outs. If he would like to send us a belated wedding gift though, I’ll forward my address.
A Quaker State coworker of Dad’s said the summer before we moved “I wouldn’t trade my children being raised here [Oil City], for all the tea in China.” I have thought of that as the years have gone by and thought how shortsighted it seemed. As the 20 year anniversary is the china anniversary, I wouldn’t trade all the tea in China for the experience of growing up in two totally different places. I love that my husband was a part of the most defining experience of my life.
Josh’s cousins are attending Forestwood next year, which has supposedly gone through a million dollar renovation. This is where I should note that there was a Facebook group “I attended Forestwood before it was ghetto” a few years ago; perhaps the school district noticed, and this spurred the renovation. Facebook sparking change?! Anyway, the cousins remembered that we both went to Forestwood, and I did my standard warning when anyone talks about going there: you might find your future spouse.