Saturday, October 31, 2009

Was I There?

I’d been looking for it everywhere. Unpacking every box of books in the storage shed, the patio cupboards, the carport cabinets, not once but three times. There are huge gaps plaguing me since I embarked on this journey of “blogging” my memoirs, which requires “jogging” my memory. I knew that if I could just find that high school annual, the Polaris, Class of ’55, it would help me recover some of the gaping holes left by years of neglect, moves, leaving behind stuff and people, repression, detours, adventures, successes, failures, and downright dumb decisions, as well as a few smart ones that have punctuated my living.

NH 55 Ann Cover-1

Could I have possibly thrown it out accidentally, or worse, intentionally? I never cared much for my past, or didn’t think so, until Marilyn and a couple of classmates tracked me down before our 40th class reunion. Then I discovered Sheldon, another grade-school-to-high-school buddy, who lives a little more than an hour away in Orange County. We’ve been having lunch together every month or two. Sheldon keeps in touch with people and has been a big part of my “memory jogging” community of friends over the past few years. Fortunately I was able to borrow Sheldon’s Polaris (the name derived from our school name and mascot, North High Polar Bears) and began going through it page-by-page, thinking I would scan a selection of photos. This was a strange, humbling and less-than-satisfying experience, a little eerie in fact. Faces of teachers and friends looked familiar, but no experiences of actually “being there” were coming up.

NH 55 Ann FB1-1

My memories of high school years, where were they? There I was in the football team photo, number 35, last row, second from the left. There too in a Hi-Y club picture. And my senior class photo appeared in its place. But I was on the wrestling team until I cracked that rib. And the track team. Also on the AV Projection crew—I helped produce a movie about good old North High.

NH 55 Ann Hi Y-1 NH 55 Ann Srs3-1

I went through it again. This was incredible. “I know I was there! But I’m not there!” Just like the movie about Bob Dylan with all the various actors. “I’m not there!” “Did I drop out of high school in the second half of my senior year?” No, I still have my diploma. I must have graduated. I have a degree from the U. of Minnesota. I couldn’t have got into college without that diploma, could I? I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class, but I did get good grades—top 10%.

Sheldon always says what a painful experience high school was for him. I always nod and let it slide off. But he may be right. All those notes we wrote in one another’s Polarises about how much fun we had in _____ or _____, and what a great ____ you are and I’ll never forget _____.

Maybe we were just covering it up. In my case, perhaps I just kept telling myself I was there when I wasn’t. Where the hell was I? To be continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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