Over the 4th of July I went to my 20th high school reunion.
I’ve not seen all but a handful of you since graduation in ’92, as all of my family has moved far away from Columbus so there are few roots that remain apart from friendships years back. This is a simple post with a few musings from my brief time back “home” in the form of a letter to all those who went.
1. Our 20th reunion was, to me, the great equalizer. We generally live in a society where perception leads and reality follows. It’s annoying, but true. Yet, it seems that at the 20-year reality starts to reign. And people care more about the relationships than the showman/woman ship. I like that. And I loved seeing every single one of you again.
2. You all were very kind to me, probably undeservedly. I can look back at my life–high school no exception–and think to myself “Wow, I wish I would’ve done this differently” or “I should’ve been more patient with him/her/etc.” Regardless, kindness pretty much abounded by everyone to everyone.
3. I went to school with some really exceptional individuals. Authentic. Smart. Funny. Talented. You guys amazed me. During my time in Columbus, I was half-tempted to pack up and move (don’t worry fam, it was a fleeting thought) and create a technology incubator in Columbus where I’d combine start-up capital and hands on help to incubate businesses across the city. There’s great talent in Columbus, and it’s a fantastic platform for new initiatives. Alas, I think we’re still too coastal. I wish I had ten lives. I’d definitely spend one of them doing the C-bus incubator.
4. There’s a part of my roots that I really miss. Seeing familiar places and faces gave me nostalgia I’ve not felt in quite a while. I did a few long runs throughout old Arlington and floods of memories came back to me:
- How I used to ride my bike as my dad would run in an old blue set of scrubs, we’d run the same route repeatedly and I never tired of the trip
- Jones middle school and the field where Coach Kingsboro used to inspire a bunch of 13-year old boys to become men on the football field and off the field in life with stories out of archives I never knew existed
- Huffman’s market where I used to work stocking shelves and Mr. Huffman would pull me aside to and say “slow down son and take your time fronting those shelves, you’re going to run out of work for me to give you” (always a type-A and impatient for the next thing)
- Mr. Richards house, my 4th and 5th grade teacher who still remains one of my favorite human beings to this day; I ran by his house twice, stopped by and never connected with him, but even being near his home reminded me how much he believed in me and so many others (Swarty, you know exactly what I’m talking about)
- And so, so, so much more
5. Finally, I learned that Todd Emery is my hero.
All of you are gifted in various ways–at the reunion there were successful business people, exceptional doctors, creative artists, those talented in a trade (I wish I could build something exceptional with my hands), amazing full-time moms and dads who are raising some incredible kiddos, and even a longstanding friend who is a fantastic comedian.
Yet, the most inspirational person for me was Todd Emery, who works with a certain group of kids at Jones Middle School. When I heard about this, it really put things in perspective for me. I used to think my job was exceptionally challenging. I was wrong. My job is easy. Todd’s job? Now that’s exceptionally challenging. Life changing. And admirable.
I left the reunion with a different perspective on life. And a new hero.
To all of you from the class of ’92, thanks for giving me such a great gift of your friendship growing up, and a refresher during our latest meet up.
I’ll see you guys again in 20-years.
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