Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hall(s) of memories

Found myself out at the high school this afternoon.

I don't know how to put into words what I felt. It isn't deja vu, because it certainly doesn't feel the same as what went on before. No, I guess that English hall I walked down served more as a time machine, taking me back more than a decade, to memories that have long lay dormant somewhere in the back of my mind.

I passed by Mrs. Webber's door, and remembered jumping on top of her desk, playing Davy Crockett for some forgotten report. I thought about political "discussions" with Mark Padgett, watching the Franco Zeffirelli version of "Romeo and Juliet," reading Mark Twain and getting some indication of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I saw Mrs. Jenkins' old door and again thought of Padgett, the time he gave his infamous report on Atlantis; the time we read Shakespeare and Mrs. Jenkins cast me as Caesar and Mark as Brutus; the argument we got into over the passage of NAFTA.

I can remember reading Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" and being quite moved by Sydney Carton's grand sacrifice, a far better thing he did, for two people in love. I also remembered standing out by the door, waiting for the dark-haired girl with the perfect teeth. I remembered the day she came; I also remembered the day she didn't.

Outside what once was Denise Pennington's classroom, I thought about the shy young man who found his voice inside, much more comfortable when inhabiting somebody else's shoes. I remembered that great production of "The Foreigner" that the students liked so well; I also remembered that other weird play, which nobody seemed to like.

Finally, I passed by Senor Bright's old room and smiled at the memory of doing the "David Letterman Show" with Josh Ellis and singing Christmas carols in Spanish.

Nothing is the same. Mrs. Webber still haunts her door. But Barbara Jenkins left years ago, for West and Bearden; she's now retired. Denise Pennington and Senor Bright both headed for Webb School not long after we graduated.

Me? Well, I hang out just down the road. Every time I walk the halls of Halls, I think about all these memories, and about the young man I used to be.

The dark-haired girl with the perfect teeth, by the way, married somebody else. I guess I'm glad she did. She never knew me anyway.

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