October 26th, 2017
A cane or two came to this reunion and getting up on that chair to make an announcement was a personal sacrifice, but pretense stayed home this time. We are who we are now.
And that’s just fine.
As published in The Memphis Daily News, October 27, 2017, and in The Memphis News, October 28-November 3, 2017
A SLICE OF TIME
In the spring, young men’s fancy turns to … well … whatever it turns to looks a lot more like an Ole Miss coed than Coach Collins, a lot more like a beach at Sardis Lake than the lunch counter at White Station High School, and the lemon meringue pie was a lot sweeter than fifth period.
Coach Collins was in charge of fourth period study hall, followed by lunch or preceded by lunch, all followed by whatever fifth period held in store. If you planned it just right, you could blow out of the parking lot headed south right after third period, spend an hour on the Sardis beach staring at aforementioned Ole Miss coeds, grab a piece of pie at the diner just past the dam, and make it back for sixth period study hall with wet hair and a wide smile.
Sometimes there were two of you, sometimes a few more, depending on who you could talk into it during third period, and who had a car. If I’d spent as much time plotting graphs, I would have nailed the ACT math section.
But oh that early spring Ole Miss sunbathing, and oh that pie – both enjoyed without the constraints on things so sweet later life would bring.
My 50th high school reunion was held recently, made sweeter by all those years and bittersweet by all those not there. Earlier reunions had more of the standard stuff – who was married, not married, then married – kids, jobs, cities – hairlines, waistlines, and the “you look just the same” line – the silent comparisons of lives and looks and losses – the out-loud laughter of shared memories.
This one had a lot less of life’s supposed big stuff, a lot less to prove, and a lot more genuine gladness to simply see each other. We’re still here was built into the handshakes and hugs, knowing that we really knew each other when we were really young when the world around us now thinks we were born old.
I found myself thinking about the smaller things that brought such joy in high school, of moments of innocence and discovery, and I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to be largely spared the crippling angst of so many. Perhaps I should have been more serious, more concerned about the future than the moment. Maybe that diner’s lemon meringue pie wasn’t really the best pie ever and worth the trip.
“Hey,” Todd said, shaking my hand, “I want you to tell me if I’m crazy. All the way from Albuquerque I’ve been thinking about something and wondering if I made it up. Did you and I cut school and go to Sardis Lake, buy a whole lemon meringue pie, and eat the whole damn thing on the way back?”
Yes, my old friend, we did.
Since we’ve faced much of the big stuff, and can see the stuff ahead, we’re back to the sweetness of a moment.
I’m a Memphian, and that was damn fine pie.