Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time Traveler

1961. The gym was new. The class of 1965 had entered the portal. Now 45 years later I was walking into that same gym. No longer the wide-eyed freshman. No longer a part of the class of 48 students who graduated all those years ago.

Last fall when my sister and I were planning our trip from Key West to Indiana, I had hoped to attend the Alumni Banquet. Graduating from a small school allowed me to know all of the student body of 200 students. I needed to go home, and this was a good time.

Before I ever walked into the gymnasium, I spotted a couple for whom I had babysat when just a teen. Over the years I had wondered where they were living. Now I was within hugging distance. It seemed that with each step I took, I found someone else I’d known in my childhood. Class by class I found past school friends as well as their parents. Miles and years melted away and the missing parts of my past were put in order once more.

Along with those I recognized were those I could not. A hug often found me looking over the hugger’s shoulder mouthing to my friend Brenda, “Who is this?” Adults who were once small children in my growing up were now beautiful adults bringing me home once more. No wonder I couldn’t place the faces.

Recognition was given for the person travelling the farthest distance. I knew from the way the dialogue was going that I was the target traveler. Triumphant I nodded and sat hiding behind Brenda. Those who had come from California glared at me. The class roll was called in which each class stands and tells how many from that class are attending. One other person from our class was in attendance. “Class of 1965.” I stood announcing that two were present and accounted for. And, I stood alone since the other person graduated from another high school. Correcting myself down to the single attendee, I melted into my seat.

I realize that those people have no idea how much they mean to me. They were part of my life on Neff Road. They were a part of creating the me I have become and the memories I cherish. I didn’t want the evening to be over. I wanted to sit around talking with old friends catching up on 45 years. Of course, we all say we will keep in touch, but it won’t happen. Perhaps I will return for year 50.

Maybe I hold on to my history entirely too close; however, the memories I have collected in my 62+ years of life are more precious to me than any stack of money I could accumulate or any status that would mean much less. I could live my life moving forward only focusing on me, but I would miss so much by not looking back.

I was home, and, by golly, I had fun.

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