Going Back (part 1)

Going back is always interesting. This last Friday night marked the 10th anniversary of my high school senior year homecoming football game. In honor of the occasion, classmates organized a reception and special seating at the game. Since I had not seen a lot of these people in over 9 years, I decided it would be cool to stop by and see who would show up.

Since Amy was driving to Atlanta the next morning, and I was going to be driving down to Tuscaloosa for homecoming there, I was on my own. I was just fine until I parked the truck, when I suddenly said to myself “Well, I wonder what this is going to be like.”

I walked into the school library and took a look around. I was relieved to immediately recognize several faces, and I began to mingle. Everyone was very friendly, and I was beginning to settle down. Just about that time, someone came up from behind and called me by name. I turned around a drew a total blank. After about 5 seconds, I finally put together enough shards of memory and news I had heard recently and managed to reply, “Mike?”

Michael is one of my best friends from school. We became friends shortly after I arrived from another school in 4th grade and stayed friends all the way through senior year (my alma mater goes from K-12). From spending nights at each others’ houses in elementary school, to trading instruments for the fun of it during football games, to being 2 of the 5 people at the private post-graduation party held at a friend’s pool, Michael and I were pretty close.

Anyway, the reason I didn’t recognize Michael is that he and I have pretty much swapped body profiles since high school. The last time we saw each other (at that party), I was 5′8″ or so and 125 pounds. Since then, I have gained not an inch of height and probably 75 pounds or more. Michael, on the other hand, has gone from being a bit round back in school to looking very trim and polished. I had heard he had lost a lot of weight, but I was simply floored. Between that and the facial hair, I almost didn’t recognize him. We talked pretty much the entire evening about our lives now and, of course, about antics from back in school. It was great seeing such a good friend, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again at the official class reunion next fall.

The event was announced late enough that there were a lot of people that didn’t make it. Even so, there were plenty of people other than Michael that I did see. I’m not going to try to list them all here, but there was Clerease, who rode the bus with me every day and is just as quiet as she used to be. Alana, Monica, Michelle, and Stephanie were on the row behind me, all with spouses in tow. Emily was on my other side, teasing that if I ever get a convertible Thunderbird like the one they were using in the homecoming procession, she wants a ride. Wayne, who I knew from back at my first school, reminisced with me about our first bus driver (who died a good way back). There were the guys that I always associated as kind of being the “sports crowd”: Michael, Wade, Todd, Chad, Steven, Tim (who had to tell me who he was… sorry Tim!), Scott, and I’m sure several others I’m forgetting.

I chatted with lots of folks and asked about some not present. I hope to see Samantha, Chastity, and Jason next fall. Those three would complete the 5 from our graduation party. Another Jason is the other member of our class that went straight to the University of Alabama. He and I got along better the further we grew from high school, and I hope that life allows him to make it next year. Many many others were missed.

It really doesn’t feel like it’s been 9 and a half years. I didn’t have any earth-shattering revelations the other night. We all have our own lives now, but some things (like with whom we were most likely to be speaking) don’t change as much. All a bit older, all hopefully gaining the maturity that comes with being out in the “real world” for a while. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was pretty pleased with how things went. I hope it works as well next year and that I’m able to renew a few more friendly connections.

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