The Trout House, or Windbreak Cafe, was exactly the sort of place I was hoping to have dinner. It was not a chain, like the kind I had too many where I live now.
Pretty fancy fish, and pretty homey kind of cafe.
I hadn’t seen Ray in a very long time. I am terrible with faces, so I was a little nervous.
But Chris and I walked in, and I saw a classic computer nerd type sitting there, his back to me and his pony tail far down his back.
That was Ray.
He and his wife Sherry were there, very happy to see us, and we scooted into the chairs around the table to catch up. Of course I had to tell them about the massively long day we’d just had.
Chris, who’d never met these two, was able to chime in at various points. I’d never had a chance to get to know Sherry very well. I think the only time I her was when I crashed their wedding.
I was hanging out on the UAA campus visiting some other people that day, and someone said they had to go to his wedding. I’d known he was getting married, but I didn’t know it was that day. The two guys (another friend from that first year of college and a guy who happened to have been my neighbor in Wasilla) encouraged me to come even though I’d not been invited.
It was a great party. They were very happy and I was welcome to take part of it.
Anyway, Sherry (by reputation) was super cool. Getting her PhD in English Literature, which is way cool to begin with, and in addition, Ray had never said a single negative thing about her ever. That’s got to be a very good sign.
She was a smart and charming as my expectations had led me to believe.
We talked about the changes that had happened. All the stores and restaurants there. The demolishing of the mall, which I regretted. And the installtion of more stoplights and–god forbid!–overpasses.
“It’s starting to look like Los Angeles!” Sherry said.
Before I could visibly roll my eyes at such incongruous comparison, Ray told us that Sherry had done her undergrad work at UC Riverside. So she actually DID know a little about what LA looked like.
The difference was stark to me. But if you equate overpasses with LA, that’s not far from the truth. And when Wasilla (the Mat-Su Valley, really) goes from zero overpasses to three…..
okay…i guess…I’ll give it to you.
Ray told Chris how we’d met. “I was a nodie at the computer labs at Mat-Su college..”
I’d forgotten he was a nodie. The tech guys who answered questions at the various computer labs were called Nodies. Each computer lab was associated with a “node” and therefore the guys called themselves…oh…nevermind…it was a super nerd thing to be.
But it was hard to tell who was nodie and who was just a lab rat. I was a labrat, because of the tremendous joy that email communication brought to my soul. I didn’t know anything though. So when I had a question, I turned to whoever was handy and asked for help. That might be a more experienced labrat…or it might be a nodie…I couldn’t tell. And the nodies hung out in the lab even when they weren’t working.
I thought nodie was a very cool job. I wished I could be a nodie. I think there was one girl nodie…In Anchorage…but I knew I wasn’t good enough. They seemed all-knowing to me.
Ray went on “..and this ray of sunshine appeared in the lab.”
I had no idea.
It was great to see Ray after so many years. He was very much the same. We were done around 9:30, settled the bill and took our leave.
The sun shone like late afternoon, and we’d had a good nap.
“Where do you want to go now?” Chris asked.
THIS was the Alaskan summer sunlight I remembered.
“Let’s go back to Hatcher’s Pass!”