Yes, You Can Go Home Again

They say that you can’t go home again. Last weekend, I did.

I vividly remember the night of my high school graduation. It was very hot and very wet.

Because of heavy rains, we were the first class, in no one could remember how long, to graduate inside the gymnasium instead of on the football field.

It was a Friday night in May, and polyester was still surviving from the 1970s in the form of our shiny purple caps and gowns.

As we all sat inside this metal building with no air conditioning, I began to count the number of sweat beads dripping from my face. That was preferable to listening to the drone of the speaker (I can’t even remember now who it was) telling us that whatever lay ahead of us, we could rise above it.

At that moment, all that I wanted to raise was a glass full of beer to toast my classmates and then move on with my life.

The ceremony eventually ended and we tossed our caps into the air. We hugged, took a few photos, and I darted for the door and my ’72 Olds Cutlass in the parking lot.

I went home and showered and then we all met up at a predetermined place, far away from the grownups. We laughed, partied, enjoyed our evening, and then we all said goodbye.

That was 35 years ago.

Recently, it must’ve dawned on one of us that our 35th graduation anniversary was here. Facebook, which no one could’ve ever dreamed of when we were in school, was an invaluable tool in finding many of my classmates. The call went out for all of us to gather for the homecoming game in our hometown. We’d all attend the game, and then gather the next night at a predetermined party spot, far away from the grownups.

I rolled into town, this time in a Prius instead of a much-cooler ’72 Olds Cutlass, and of course, it was raining.

My friend Kirk is now an elected official, a city treasurer of all things, and was in charge of cooking the hamburgers for the booster club at the homecoming game. I offered to help.

As I walked toward the football stadium down the same sidewalk, in front of the same high school gymnasium where I’d graduated 3 1/2 decades earlier, I thought about how ironic it was that rain had sent us on our way so many years before, and now it seemed to be welcoming us back home.

I also thought about the fact that the same guy I was in math class with was somehow now counting money for a living.

A handful actually made it to the game. We stood under the pavilion, moving from one side to the other trying to simultaneously dodge the rain and the smoke from the hamburger grill.

I ran into a number of people from my past, asked about others, and met the children of some of my classmates. Most of the children are older now than we were when we graduated.

The next evening, we gathered at a classmate’s home. And, I’ll be honest. There were lots of folks walking up the driveway that I didn’t recognize. I would turn and say, “Help me out, here. Who is that?” But I wasn’t the only one doing it. The fact is that 35 years changes most folks.

Only a handful looked close to what they did back in the day, and they were all told as much.

Everyone brought a dish, and we ate, had a few cocktails, and visited until well after dark. It really was a fun time.

There is a comfort level that you have with your schoolmates that never goes away. Time, distance, and other factors may place us in completely different worlds from each other, but no matter how long you’ve been apart, seeing each other again brings back a kinship that can’t be erased.

As the rain continued, we hugged, took a few photos, and I darted for the door and my 2008 Prius in the parking area.

As I drove home, I thought about how long 35 years is. And, how seeing everyone again made it seem not that long at all.


©2015 John Moore

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