Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Old Middle School and Nostalgia

This last blog entry reminds me of a couple of different things. A couple of months ago my friend Vicki and I went back to our old middle school for Career Day. It was really cool and nostalgic. A friend of mine teaches 7th grade Science and she needed at least 2 people to come in and talk about their job. She really thought of me because I work for a newspaper and she thought that would be an interesting topic. I reminded her that I had attended Hamilton Middle School and that made it even better. I told her I’d invite my friend who I met at Hamilton when we were 11 years old and we’re still friends at 35. I thought that would be interesting for kids to hear and realize that some of the friends they will make in this time of their life may be friends for life.

So Vicki and I set out to speak to this 7th grade class that was as interested as a class of 7th graders can be. Some of them looked so little! Is that how we looked at 13? It seems hilarious now. I think Vicki and I were the ones who enjoyed the experience more. We walked around the first floor and we saw 2 of our old teachers, our gym teacher (my old swim coach) and our Spanish teacher. We even took pictures with them. I also went by to see my bus driver who still teaches Shop there. He used to teach and drive a bus when I was a kid. He remembered me but apparently I didn’t make as big of an impact on his life as he made on mine because he wasn’t too enthusiastic. Maybe that’s just his way but he was kind of lukewarm. Funny because I have so many fond memories of riding the school bus and he was our driver for three years.

I also went by the library and chatted with the librarian as I fed the baby. It was kind of bittersweet and nostalgic to sit in a room that I loved so much when I was in high school. I was a library clerk one semester as an elective when the library was on the second floor and I remember when this library was built the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years.

Nostalgia seems to be the word of the week or the month. It’s a topic that’s been on many people’s minds. Maybe it’s the weather. There’s something about Spring and Fall when the weather is especially nice in Houston that makes me feel giddy, nostalgic, and like I’m waiting for something to happen. I always tell people that beautiful days are dangerous because I quit my job eleven years ago on a beautiful Fall day.

I was feeling especially nostalgic last week. I was thinking a lot of old friends and old times with fond memories. I thought of my girlfriend in Spain and I even wrote her a wistful e-mail telling her I miss her and that I can’t wait until I can visit her with the children and we can sit and chat in a cafe while they play nearby.

One day, also last week, I turned on some music in the office and I was playing 80s tunes. A woman commented on how that music evoked memories of her younger years. I agreed that it did the same for me. She then talked about nostalgia and how she sometimes longs for old times and that she can’t believe the years have passed her by the way they have.

I told her I could understand what she meant but at the same time I felt like I’ve moved on now to a different phase in my life and that our lives are made up of different phases. I’ve accepted that this is the phase of my life that I’m passing through right now and because of that I don’t really miss the old days. I’m just glad I have fond memories to think about and that I had a pretty happy childhood.

She agreed but she also said that it was probably easier for me to think that way because I’m married and I have children. She doesn’t, so she doesn’t have those things to mark a new phase in her life. I thought about that and I could see her point but at the same time this made me sad for her. We all need to learn to move on, whether we have a husband or children or not.

Then this past weekend one of my good friends came by to visit and we were talking about this same topic. I told her the same thing I told this co-worker and she agreed. She has two little ones too so she could totally relate. We were watching “Something’s Gotta Give,” and we were commenting on how that will be a different phase in our life when we’re that age and especially if we find ourselves single again and with grown children.

Life is a series of phases and the exciting part about it is that we don’t know where we will find ourselves next. We should always expect the unexpected. That’s fine as long as we don’t lose ourselves along the way.

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