Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Together again

There we were, as if 15 years were but a blip, together again, the way it should be.

You might think this is funny, but the Halls High School Spanish III Class from 1993-94 held a reunion Aug. 2. Oh, they didn’t all show up. Some had legitimate excuses, I know.

The others? Well, it’s sad that we often get too busy to remember what matters in life.

Tara Akins was there. She flew in all the way from beautiful San Diego, Calif. A kinder disposition you’ll never find. She’s the type who says, “If you come to a Padres game, you can stay at my house.” And mean it.

Haven Williams Smith arrived from Abingdon, Va. She has always been one of my favorites. Haven e-mailed me last Christmas with the reunion idea.

She also reminded me that I wrote in her yearbook that she’d be the only Democrat I would have in my presidential cabinet. Ahh, the crazy dreams of youth.

Maggie Myers Meyers let us hold the shindig at the Emerald Youth Foundation. She works there. What a blast!

Before the others arrived, I weaseled out of helping set up by playing air hockey with Neylan Bright. What can I say? I still don’t want to grow up.

Turns out our other classmate Heather McCloud still lives in Halls. She told some funny stories about classmates yelling her Spanish name across the way at Maryville College. She said she tried to pretend they were talking to somebody else.

We paused to remember Josh Ellis – great guy, cousin, prankster – who died way too young. Virtually all of us said that June 2 — nay a day — doesn’t go by that we think of him. I’d have given a year’s salary had he been with us that Sunday. But, in some ways, I think he was.

The man of the hour, though, the reason for the reunion, was Senor.

In so many ways, Doug Bright was the best teacher I ever had. He was so much fun — always joking and keeping us interested in learning Spanish.

Those who were there will remember his Vol Van, his obsession with all things Tennessee, the “Truffle Shuffle,” Poofs! and his dead-on Jack “Hawaii 5-O” Lord impression.

In all these years, I only saw him mad once. That was when classmates kept looking at their watch during his lecture to see if it was lunchtime. (This wasn’t our Spanish III class.)

Senor blew up. He threw his chalk. That smile disappeared. I knew I didn’t want to see it again.

Fifteen years later, Senor and I live down the street from one another. We watch a few ball games a year. Talk on the phone every now and then. His kids are growing up.
Here is the one depressing thought: We are now older than Senor was when he taught us.

But, this reunion wasn’t a day to be maudlin. No, it was an afternoon to bask in the glow of old friends, renew acquaintances, to celebrate what matters in life.

Here’s a classmate’s comment that sums it up:

“I haven’t laughed this much in years.”

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