Well I’m takin’ my time

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This morning Boston’s Foreplay/Long Time came on the radio, and I listened to it for the I’ll-never-know-how-manyth-time.

Twenty-nine years ago, I used the opening lyric (It’s been such a long time, I think I should be going) as my parting words to my graduating high school class of 1986. Griffin High, the school I graduated from, went kaput a few years later, but I still keep in touch with some of my classmates, mostly on Facebook.

Four years in the same place does seem like a long time, when you’re 17 and itching to get out and see the world. Now, almost three decades later, I realize that four years can pass in the blink of an eye. It’s all about perspective, I suppose.

Another line from the song that I like is “There’s a long road I’ve gotta stay in time with.” That long road has led me out of Springfield Illinois to Chicago, with assorted side trips along the way. Where it leads from here, I have no idea. But I’ll be sure to stay in time with it, all the same.

Outlasting Camus

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This is the copy of The Stranger by Albert Camus that I read in high school. I share it here to prove that Griffin High School once existed (although it ceased to be back in the late 1980s), and to show how some writers have followed me throughout my life. There isn’t much else that I’ve kept with me since high school besides the story of Meursault.

While paging through a different translation of the story, as my daughter is now reading it for a high school class, I read the author’s bio in the back of the book. I learned that Camus, like George Orwell, died at the age of 46. Since I recently wrote about Orwell’s passing at the same age I am now, I need to revise those remarks to include Camus, as well.

Should I make it to my birthday in June, I will have lived longer–numerically, at least– than two writers who authored stories that have remained with me since adolescence. I’ll have produced no literary works of any value myself, but then again few people ever have.

Upon reaching this stage in life, where the road of life no longer seems infinite, I’m reminding myself that every year–hell, every day–is a blessing. So why not appreciate life? I see no reason to do otherwise.

An agreeable memory

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Facebook is an amazing thing. It allows people to reconnect with almost anyone they’ve ever come into contact with: classmates, neighbors, colleagues from old jobs, and lots of other variations that I can’t think of right now. People who had previously disappeared into the mists of time can reappear in an instant, in the form of a friend request.

Such a person recently sent me a friend request, and I was happy to accept the request. The request brought to mind a recollection of him, and some other classmates from long ago, and I wanted to type it out, in the hope that he–and some of the other long-ago classmates of ours–would remember it, too.

The story happened thirty years ago, at an all-boys high school that no longer exists, or at least not as an all-boys school. We were sophomores at the time, and were having a discussion in religion class one day. Somebody in the class said something  perfectly reasonable, and so the next student to speak prefaced his remarks by agreeing with the previous speaker. He also delivered a profoundly reasonable statement, so much so that the next speaker felt compelled to agree with the previous two speakers. And so it went on, for another handful of speakers around the room.

The final stroke of our remarkable run of agreement came when the teacher–who we knew as Brother Vince–called on who is now my newest Facebook friend. And he played the part perfectly, prefacing his remarks with “I agree with..” and then pausing to find the list he had written down of all the previous speakers, all of whom had been in perfect agreement with the previous speakers. After affirming his agreement, the comment that he made–which must have been just as agreeable as everyone else’s had been–finally got the good Brother’s attention.

He was, as I remember it, a pretty easygoing guy. We certainly were testing his limits on that day, though. Rather than calling on another would-be speaker, he announced to the class that the next person who agreed with anyone would earn themselves a detention.

If the story ended there, perhaps I wouldn’t remember it as vividly as I do. But before anyone could digest the threat that was being made, another student chimed in with “I agree!” and the room exploded into laughter. I hope that the teacher thought it was as funny as we all did, but I’ve honestly blocked that part out of my memory. I’ll say that he did, and wait to see if any of my classmates have a different recollection of these events.

Anyway, this memory was far too long and involved for a Facebook comment, or for a direct message. One of the reasons I enjoy writing my own blog is that it gives me a platform for stretching out and telling a story like this. Hopefully he–and anyone else who happens upon this–enjoyed it, too.