Tuesday, May 31, 2016

McNeese MFA Five Year Reunion

A lot can change in five years, but you have to hope that some of the best things won't. For us, going to graduate school at McNeese changed everything for the better. We forged lifelong friendships, met each other, began our teaching careers, and grew as writers and as people. In many ways, I feel like Lake Charles is where I became an adult.

It's strange going back, especially passing by old places where I used to live or places our group frequented. Each time I return, it feels more like a dream and less like a real place I was.

When I realized that 2016 would mark five years since we graduated, I sent a group text asking my class if people wanted to get together for a reunion of sorts. Everyone was enthusiastic, and we selected Memorial Day weekend. As the event got closer, we made some actual plans for a couple of events.

Brendan and I arrived in Lake Charles on Friday night. We drove from seeing my grandmother in La Marque, and it was pouring rain the entire drive, so we were delayed about 45 minutes. We met up with friends at Lunas, a restaurant we used to eat at a lot for dinner. It was amazing to catch up with everyone.

Saturday, we got breakfast with Erica at our favorite diner (KDs) and spent the day driving around and meeting up with more old friends.

Photo Credit: Erica McCreedy
That evening, our classmate Rather hosted everyone at his home in Orange, TX. He and his wife Katie (and our friend Jessica) spent all day smoking pork and preparing the house for the party. It was the perfect setting for a reunion, with a big backyard and open living room for everyone to hang out in. At the last minute, Charley could not make it, but we had five of the seven graduates there, which was pretty impressive!

Left to right: Rather, Will, J, Stacy & Brendan

The party was potluck style, with everyone bringing something to share. 

Jessica, Missy, Stacy, Sarie
 The backyard was the perfect place for bocci ball.

While the kitchen made the perfect place for playing Magic (just like the good ole' days).

The next afternoon, we held a crawfish boil at Sam Houston State Park. Brendan and I picked up three sacks of the crawfish, and our former professor, Dr. Blevins, put his crawfish boiling talents to work. 

We rented the park's pavilion, and it was the perfect setting. It was hot outside, but I was just extremely grateful that it wasn't raining. 

The crawfish were delicious, and everyone had a good time. There was even a jungle gym and badminton net to keep the kids (young and young at heart) occupied. Will even pulled out his instruments, so we could play some old tunes.

Our former professor Amy and friend Erica 

I don't actually know how to play harmonica, but Will graciously lets me pretend.
Photo Credit: Erica McCreedy 
Brendan passing on MTG to the next generation.

We are really proud of everyone in our class. Rather earned his PhD at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is an English Instructor at Lamar State. He and his wife Katie have four year old twin boys.

J completed a PhD at University of Louisiana Lafayette and has been granted a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford. He is moving with his wife, Sarie, and kids (ten year old daughter and eight year old son) to California in the fall (we told them to crash with us on their way there). 

Will is a project manager in Greenville, MS. He and his wife, Missy, have a nine month old daughter and a darn good family band. 

I'm not exactly sure what Charley and Vanni are up to, but I hope we can see them at the ten year reunion and find out. 

It was a great long weekend, and we returned to La Marque on Monday just in time to have a nice long visit with my grandmother before getting dinner (pizza, yum) at Gio's Flying Pizza and Pasta in nearby Dickinson, TX. We spent the night at my grandmother's house and were up early for another visit to the care center before catching our flight home. 

Guess what we found in the backyard when we returned? 

Can you spot the two hummingbird babies? 
We hope everyone had a great weekend. Ours was filled with great friends, great food, and great memories. 


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