40 Years in 4 Hours

No, no, no, this was NOT my 40th high-school reunion.  I might not admit when that one comes around.  It was my 30th, making me sound old enough.  I remember, when I was younger, hearing people wistfully mention such high numbers and I just assumed they’d be dead soon.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I was unexpectedly whisked away in the middle of my first year of high school ( for those who never knew why, see my below post):


I spent my childhood on a nice, upper-middle-class street from kindergarten and followed the trajectory of elementary school through junior high with friends I adored. I rode my bike until it got dark when kids still did that, playing with my neighbors before parents checked with other parents that we’d be supervised.  I liked my life, I fit in, (despite always being the tallest and the biggest in elementary school).  When I was forced to move to Los Angeles at 16, I lost touch with all of my Long Island friends.

The beauty of Facebook (and to me, it has been miraculous in bringing back that part of my life) has re-introduced me to people I barely knew, those who moved in different circles.  It has also been responsible for reconnecting me with those whose houses I slept over and spoke to on the phone for hours at night.

In many ways, I felt like an interloper at the reunion, since I missed those awkward and fraught high school years with those who were there.  To me, in my day, I looked at life as there were the Jews and then there was everyone else.  (Read the below post about my 30th boarding school reunion, where I spent my last two years of high school, one among a smattering of Jews.):

I felt slightly disappointed not knowing the football players who looked at my face registering not a bit of recognition and moved right past me. Everyone had meshed and merged in those two years and I had missed that part.

I felt most rooted reconnecting with my elementary school friends, those who appeared in the school photos I had uncovered and brought with me.  There were three who lived on my street in houses I have memories of pretending we were the Partridge Family.  We took the school bus together, a short distance, but memorable just the same.  Seeing these boys who had turned into men, had me hugging them the hardest, staring at their faces and marveling at who they’ve become.  I’ve become particularly close with one who lived around the corner, all through Facebook and words.

There was the smallest boy in the class who actually let me put my finger into one of his dimples (well, I never asked if I could), what I remember him for.  I heard stories about lunging to kiss a boy in first grade only to have him throw me off in a panic.  I learned that a sweet boy gave me a coin from his collection and that my mother, thinking I had stolen it, called his mother and forced me to return it.  I learned that one of the nicest boys laughed at me when I stepped in dog poop and he’s felt guilty about it for all these years.  I learned that I always had a nice “aura” in junior high.

I drank wine and laughed with a woman who I had totally confused with someone else, another Facebook friend who I never really knew.  We have shared written quips and laughter, found many things in common, and I breezed into her hotel room as if we were best friends.  Another connection who I barely knew has turned into masked mush over his incredible work with urban kids.  We stole away for a few minutes having discovered so much about each other through my writing and constant Facebook posts.  He’s wonderful and I hope he never has to compromise his love and passion for the lives he changes.  And of course, there were a couple of my very dear friends who I would occasionally whisk past during the night and whisper to them and move on, confident just knowing that they were in the same room with me.

There were many people there who I know read my blog and many others I had no idea did.  Throughout the night I was sought out, hearing praise for my writing that was unexpected and beyond flattering.  A man made it a point to come over to me to compliment me and on the teeniest, tiniest, itty-bittiest scale,  I felt like a real writer.  As I was leaving a lovely woman who hasn’t aged one second said “You better write about this,” and well, here it is, my homage to my roots and the lovely people I had to leave behind.


1 Comment

  1. You write well, Gayle. Have you considered writing some fiction (based on your experiences working with the "at-risk")and submitting it to literary journals? It is a extremely competitive process, but if you "defy the odds", it would likely open some doors to greater exposure. And there would be, of course, that wonderful parallel you could use with your "students", who themselves have to defy the odds, and risk rejection,just to land reasonable employment.

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