02
Jun
08

Of Longhorns and Wildcats…

Wildcats

It was 6:30 PM, Friday, May 30th. At River Road High School, alumni from the last thirty years were converging on the new school building–open only a few months–to catch up on the latest news and reflect on the good times with old friends, many of which had gone unseen for a decade or more.

It was called “Old School Meets New School,” and I had been looking forward to attending for the last several months. Since my graduation in May of 1995, I had visited my alma mater just once, for a football game during my Freshman year of college. I’m not sure who won. I’m not sure I cared then.

Like most teenagers, the real joys of high school were lost on me. My own obsession with how others might perceive me kept me from ever actually seeing any of them, aside from a few bosom friends and several tired cliches.

I was very enthusiastic about the idea of a 10-year class reunion back in 2005. For some reason though, it never materialized beyond a mail out that I received asking for a preferred date for said event. I dutifully returned it, and waited in vain for the next several weeks for further news. I chalked it up at the time to lack of enthusiasm on the part of my former classmates. It’s always easier to blame an amorphous group than it is to single out an individual.

But THIS was going to be different! Thanks to the marvels of (cough, gag) MySpace, I had been in contact with no fewer than 7 or 8 old friends who assured me that they would be there. So I told them I would be, too.

LonghornsSo at 6:30 I found myself, roughly 100 miles away, driving madly to the graduation of the Lockney High School Class of 2008.

I spent the next hour and a half in a sweaty, stuffy, criminally-overcrowded gymnasium, struggling not to pass out from heat exhaustion or special music.

Around 8:30, when my old friends were meeting up at a ritzy Amarillo dance hall for a late dinner and more fun, I was standing in the road at the corner of 4th and Poplar Streets, madly dashing toward the few remaining red gowns lost in a sea of noise, sweat, love, and melancholy. A handshake here, a hug there, a laugh or two, and those ever-present, insufficient words: “Congratulations. Well done. I’m proud of you.”

So much more I want to say. So many other things I wish I had expressed during the countless moments of classroom monotony. So many missed opportunities.

At 9:00, I pull my tired Mitsubishi out of the teeming cloud of Lockney, Texas. And I wonder how many of these wonderful kids I will ever see again. How many will succeed in their grand visions. How many will face tragedy, heartbreak, suffering, or will fall prey to the small town animal which they all pledged time and time again to unleash and escape.

So, am I sorry that I missed my reunion? Yeah. Of course.

But by God, I don’t know if I could have lived with myself if I hadn’t said goodbye and godspeed to those young men and women in red on that night.

Go Horns. With all my blessings, and with all my heart.

Cats… our time will come.

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5 Responses to “Of Longhorns and Wildcats…”


  1. June 2, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    JC,

    As soon as I seen you posted this, I had to come and read it. You always did have a way with words and you haven’t failed me this time.

    I wanted to go to the reunion, but I also wanted to skip it. Does that make sense?? Between working, my summer class studying, and my own kids….there was just no way I could go. Dana went and she said there were only a handful of people from our class there.

    Anyways….kudos to you for a great blog!!

    -Sheila

  2. June 2, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Mr. King,

    I can’t tell you how touched I was reading this, or how much it really means to me. To have a teacher who would pass up something as precious as a 10-year reunion to attend a graduation ceremony that I’m sure gets increasingly repetitive with each passing the year… that is a person who is a true blessing in the lives of his students.
    And I can’t predict the futures of my classmates, or even tell you what mine will hold or exactly what I will experience/encounter/learn/lose/gain. But I can tell you this: I will always remember my science teacher (and Coach!!) Mr. King, who was not only an inspiration to us students (and showed us that you can still maintain some of your youth as you grow older!), but who missed his 10-year high school reunion so that he could be there to shake my hand and congratulate me on one of the proudest and most memorable days of my life. Really… thanks, Mr. King.

    –Lauren

    P.S. I will stop by the classroom when I come home to visit 🙂

  3. 3 Erin
    June 3, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    JC JC JC………

    I am proud of you, I always have been. I too wanted to go, but unfortunately this event conflicted with soemthing else. Something that I, like you, am not afraid to admit holds a higher importance than remembering the past. I am so glad you choose to stick with your graduation and to be a part of those kids’ lives. There is always time to get lost in past stories of your mom yelling at us for yelling at everyone else lol.

    You did the right thing and your right, our time will come. Who knows maybe after we are all old and gray, we will be able to come together again and remember those things that made us friends to begin with. Purple robes and all!

  4. 4 Erin
    June 3, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    lol an apparently I shouldn’t be typing after bedtime as I have lost the ability to spell correctly or proofread.

  5. 5 ANONOMOUS
    January 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I AM SO GLAD YOU TOOK AFTER ME AND NOT AFTER YOUR MOTHER

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Me too, Dad. :mrgreen:


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The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
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