Monday, 7 October 2013

Class of 1968

The cracks in the oiled wood floor ran parallel to the beat up filing cabinet and work table pushed against the far wall.  Secure in the knowledge that three of my best friends were lined up along this same crack in the floor gave me the courage to raise my eyes to Mr. Kitchen's level and focus more consciously on what he was saying.  Being one of the quietest students in my class, this was my first foray into the principal's office in twelve years of school and I was shocked that I was still being expelled.  His gaze moved from one student to the next as he lectured us on the seriousness of skipping class and the consequences - wait, there were consequences - a BIG consequence - none of us would be allowed to go on the planned trip that day to tour two post-secondary institutions in a nearby city unless our parents called the office to re-instate us.  I straightened my back, unconsciously threw my shoulders back and dared to look him in the eye.  Even in my 17 years of life experience I could recognize that little glimmer sparkling for a few seconds as he flashed me a look.  Why, he was smiling on the inside - maybe even struggling to keep a straight face as he lectured "little Miss Goody Two Shoes" and her friends.  I hurriedly shifted my gaze back to the old floor and wiped my face clean of that little grin just starting to spread at the corners of my mouth, choked down the giggle rising in my throat and began to plan the "story" I would have to tell my Mom so I could take that bus trip to the promised campuses. 

This is the story that flashed through my mind as I walked into the local golf clubhouse last weekend and came face to face with Mr. Riley - the vice-principal and star messenger regarding the above incident.  In fact, the set face, arms-crossed figure burnt into my memory 45 years ago immediately came to the forefront of my brain as I remembered his slowly raised arm pointing me in the direction of the principal's office that fateful morning back in 1968!  For one second, I was overwhelmed with the wish to turn and leave before I got into trouble again but it was really only a memory that had become one more funny story to share with those who were there! 

Seeing old friends - some for the first time in 45 years - was an amazing experience.  Reminiscing with teachers that seemed to hold your current life in their hands Monday to Friday for a whole school year was priceless.  Adulthood and maturity seemed to break down the old barriers of group think and loyalties forged by teenage brains.  Quiet teenagers had grown into chatty adults and the self-proclaimed party animals were ready to pack it in at 8 PM.  Hugs were available for all and stories came out of memories revived by many brains working together filling in the blanks where there were pauses.  We had sadly lost some friends along the way and, dare I say, a few of us even struggled to remember some who were smiling at us from two feet away - but, for a few hours, we were a class again.

Flash backs to crazy high school times were flittingly dimmed somewhat by the shadows of life as we caught up on each others lives - not obliterated but tamed into a pleasantness of nostalgia tempered by losses each had experienced along the way - divorce, death and sickness.  We had all experienced the human condition, worked through the difficult times, put our pieces back together again where a little glue sometimes showed still, and then moved forward.  There was no going back - not really!  But, for a few short hours, it sure felt like I was "just 17, you know what I mean, and the way she looked was way beyond compare!" 
Rock on, Class of 1968!  See you in 2018!

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