I’ve definitely been a little sentimental lately. You might perhaps remember a post from last week where I mentioned that my job of 15 years is coming to a close this week, Saturday is my last day. A few days ago, I had a conversation with my friend and co-worker Gabriel about another recent blog post. He chided me that the title of the blog Class of ’84 Reunion caught his eye because he wasn’t even born in 1984. (Very funny, Gabe!) But we talked about the post, about something that happened long ago, and he mentioned that that’s the thing about people you haven’t seen in a long time, they are locked in, frozen, as the person that you last had contact with. Years, decades could pass, but they are still that 9th grader or 7th grader or whatever.
And because that particular post had a certain amount of resonance, I have heard from many, many of my classmates in the last 36 hours. And it’s weird, because that thing that Gabriel talked about, that frozen in time aspect, related to those people too. I heard from P—–, who when we were in 7th grade, we were in all the same classes. She was the prettiest girl in the 7th grade and I had a crush on her just like everyone else. She’s obviously an adult now, kids of her own, but in our exchange, all I could remember was the statuesque girl with the feathered, raven hair. It was sweet. And I heard from M—–who reminded me of arm wrestling in the school cafeteria. He flattered me by saying that he thought I won, but I’m sure he did. I got a message from H——, my neighbor growing up and I remembered our summer before 9th grade where all the kids in the neighborhood hung out every day. It was the only summer that we did that, but I thought so fondly about it today. I talked to S—– who was on the French Club trip to Canada, and T—– who was one of the stars of my summer swim league, and C—- and A—- who, with me, comprised 1/3 of the gayest T-ball team in Kansas sports history. With a few exceptions, I have little contact with these people in my 2014 life. They are frozen, at 12 or 14 or 15 or 17.
Also today, I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite movies, Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, as Josie Geller who had to go to high school twice to really appreciate it. I tried to find a video of her voiceover at the end, where she talks about the people from high school. I couldn’t find it, but I did find the speech. “Those girls are still there. The ones that, even as you grow up, will still be the most beautiful girls that you’ve ever seen close up. The athletes, and the immense sense of fraternity and loyalty that they share. The smart kids- who everyone else always knew as the brains. But who I just knew as my soul mates, my teachers, my friends.” I feel like I had my Never Been Kissed moment yesterday, reconnecting with these people who were my bright spots of youth, people I admired the most in my formative years.
And now I think about Gabriel and my friends from Barney Greengrass, AKA Barneys New York Restaurant. It’s a graduation of sorts. There is a possibility that many of us will be back in the fall in the new incarnation, but the truth is, who really knows what the future holds. Yesterday, was the last time another friend Kristin and I worked together. As she left, I hugged her tight in a somewhat successful attempt to make her cry. “You’re not going to make me cry, Ray,” she said with misty eyes. And then we laughed. It was a nice moment that I hope I never forget.
I’m trying to tie these groups together, old friends from youth and these co-workers who’ve been my friends so long that they feel like family. Some will remain fixtures in my life and others, of course, will remain frozen as they are in June 2014. But frozen is not a bad thing when the memories are warm. (Get it?) If I don’t see Gabriel or Kristin or Rudy or Jonathan or Olya or the rest for another 30 years, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. And it’s nice to know that in my heart, my sometimes embittered heart that has survived a few hurts, there is room for love for so many, old and new.
I told you I’ve been sentimental lately.