Friday, July 15, 2016
life after first grade
Sometimes I wonder -- as lately when, like jets of sunshine puncturing an otherwise overcast sky, two events seemed to draw me into the growing-backwards vortex.
Yesterday's probably packed more of a punch -- an out-of-the-blue email with someone I had, literally, shared a first-grade classroom with and down the street from whom I had once lived. We palled around in that long ago and far away.
Gordon Groland wrote out of the blue that he had had a dream about the two of us riding our bikes down a then-familiar road in New City, a community not far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. We had had no contact in all those years. Gordon, like me, is now 76 and retired as a Chief Deputy District Attorney in Denver, Colo. His wife, an artist, is likewise retired. Four kids, all apparently doing well and Gordon admitting that he had some difficulty remembering what he had for supper last night.
So there we were, linked by email, most of our accomplishments in the rearview mirror, remembering (when we could) the dreams of the fist grade when becoming a lawyer or a newspaper reporter were all up ahead. So much important stuff now dimmed and dwindled to a dream or recollection of passing import. Is there life after first grade? The historical evidence says yes. The experiential evidence says, well-maybe.
Gordon's memory is better than mine. I remember him as a boyhood chum of no particular particulars. I do remember his family was the first I knew who had gotten a television set and I was invited to come and see it ... and I did... and I couldn't believe how badly Howdy Doody sucked. Gordon remembers particulars I do not and so I wonder whether, although we shared the same history, we are capable of recalling that history in a way more meaningful than a couple of strangers meeting on a bus.
The second jet of bright memory as closer to the present and yet far enough in the past to qualify as history.
Ives, my younger son, mentioned the other night that he might be interested in getting into the security business because, in some vague way, he liked keeping people safe. I said I would write to a Jim Smith, a guy with whom I had once been a fledgling reporter. Jim had gone on to join an agency whose name will not be named, spent a lot of time in one of the Central American countries, got out and got into the business of protecting individuals and property ... you know, a world of pirates, kidnapping, ransom, sheiks, well-heeled poltroons ... and I imagine whoever else might pay for protection and reclamation.
I wrote to Jim, got a brief note back and expect we'll be in touch again in this latter-day bright shaft of reconnecting light. But it felt funny. I remember Jim as a boyish reporter, of which I was, at the time, also one. And here he is, not quite as old as I but still on the down-slope of the important stuff, I would guess. Our sporadic contacts over the years never really blossomed, though they were always cordial ... and here we were, at it again. Another version of the first grade and the feeling that there is something vaguely ridiculous about imagining I ever graduated ... not ridiculous, in one sense, and yet quite ridiculous in another.
Quick -- what did you have for supper last night?