Monday, September 20, 2010

Blog the 16th: Days Gone By; Days Ahead, High School Memories

Not sure why this is floating around my head.  Maybe because my 20th class reunion is just around the corner.  Maybe because I'm 36.   Maybe because of the influx of old high school mates adding me on Facebook lately, or all the old photos that folks have been posting, like this one....

And trust me, this is one of the better ones. (I'm on the left - Tight End, Defensive End.  Tom Gorman is in the middle - halfback and cornerback. Adam Gates is right: Quarterback, "He Who Had A Cannon For An Arm").

Anyway, looking at photos like these can give anyone a tingle of nostalgia.  High school days: can't beat 'em, right?  Very few responsibilities, loads of free time, sports, and just all the other high school "stuff" that makes high school what it is.

Still, I find I don't really miss high school much.  Don't get me wrong - high school was cool.  I wasn't one of the most popular folks but certainly wasn't an outcast.  I did fine in the classroom with moderate effort.  I'm not sure how much I fit in, but I didn't stick out too badly. 

And of course, senior year I wrote my first "novel" (unbeknown to anyone else except my senior high English teacher, Mrs. Bassler) in a spiral Mead notebook.  I discovered my obsession with writing that year, and while many of my male classmates may have been sneaking peaks at the most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue (the one featuring Kathy Ireland comes to mind) under the covers at night with a flashlight, I was WRITING under my covers with a flashlight. All this happened senior year, so I have fond memories of this.

However....I'm so glad I'm not there anymore.  I've recently realized - with a little surprise - that THESE are the best days, right now.  There's so much ahead.  So much left to do.  So much promise down the road.

This realization slapped me in the face recently when my wife and I went to see an old basketball teammate's recent comedy gig here in the area.  It was ironic - a comedy show, but because Paul used to be one the area's premier basketball players, the show itself was like a Broome County "Who's - Who" of basketball.  Now, I carved my own little niche in there with a career at Broome CC - went to the National Tournament with Paul, actually - but I'm certainly not on his level, at all.

A funny thing happened.  Another basketball player from high school/college whom I'd known and at least counted as a friendly acquaintance was there, and when I stopped to chat with Paul, this guy snubbed me. Totally.  No flicker of recognition, at all. Like I wasn't good enough to tie the laces of his Converse or Nikes, and let's be honest: he played DI ball on scholarship.  I played at Broome. He WAS better than me. Totally.

But you know what?

It made me laugh.

Because he's not better than me now.  I saw it in an instant: this high school/college basketball god had morphed into an overweight, arrogant...and not just a little drunk...middle aged dude. He still acted like a king, but really he was nothing more than a jester.  Then, I realized something else: his best days were behind him.  Done. Over.

Paul and I? Our best days are NOW, and in the future.

Not a bad thought to start the week with....