My 20 year high school reunion took place about 3 weeks ago in Brandon. Since Jana was having surgery the next week, I was spending my weekdays at my parents’ house to ease the burden of my daily routine on her, and that most of the folks I was friends with in high school are either in my Facebook friends list or I see or talk to them regularly, I chose not to go. Jana and I spent the weekend lazily binge watching something or other on Netflix or a college football game between naps.
After that weekend, I saw the pictures slowly appearing on my news feed. There were familiar faces, unfamiliar faces, gray hairs, extra girth on some, more facial hair, less noggin hair, and various familiar and unfamiliar spouses. I spent some time reminiscing privately, thinking about the good times I had with my friends and the bad times too. I thought about Mr. Pierce and the early mornings tramping through the wet grass before school practicing the songs and our placement on the football field before that week’s football game or upcoming band contest. I remembered Mrs. Hollis and how she would sign my mom’s name in the office so that I could skip 5th, 6th, and 7th periods my senior year. Mrs. Tullos, who got me my first speeding ticket as I tried to keep up with her car on the way to Mississippi State to participate in Model UN my Junior year, instilled my love of the democratic process and was the biggest influence in my decision to major in political science in college. (I got my master’s degree because I was too lazy to look for a job when I graduated. I figured I’d hang around Bowen Hall and drink a few more truckloads of alcohol before entering the workforce.)
Those were all memories of high school in Brandon. My 1st 14 years of life were spent about 2 hours northeast of Brandon, though. I was born in Louisville, 1 county south of Starkville and Mississippi State University, and lived there until June 2, 1992. I still have family living there and friends from there as well.
I have strong bonds with a lot of folks in Brandon. There are friends from high school that I’ll call friend until I die, no matter the frequency of our interaction. However, the friendships from Louisville are different, for the most part, more personal. Over the last few months, I’ve seen illness, both mental and physical, affect a couple of people that I spent infinite time with at school or church. I reached out to others to try to find out about the situations and reconnect as well. Those situations prompted me to reminisce about my early years and the people that filled my understanding of my world. Just the other day, I thought about my tow-headed friend Nowell because I knew his birthday was either 7 or 14 days after mine, and I sent him a message wishing him an early or on time happy birthday. (As a funny aside, his last name is Agent, and he worked for the FBI at one time. He was Agent Agent.)
As I thought about the teachers, parents, and contemporaries from that chapter in my life, I realized that I have love for each of those people. They are special to me. I’m sure it has something to do with being young and having such a limited frame of reference. But, these folks, many I haven’t spoken to probably since 1992, elicit some positive emotion from me when I come across them in thought, when I see them on Facebook, or when I have a chance encounter with one of them on my less and less frequent trips to Louisville to see family still there. So, Chris, Nowell, Peter, Chanda, Julie, Christal, Brad, David, Klaye, Molly, Jason, Jeremy, Grant, and the scores of others, I still feel like it’s 1992 and everybody’s hanging out in high top Reeboks and tight rolled acid washed jeans.