A few weeks ago, I found in my inbox a completely unexpected email from a dear high school friend I hadn’t heard from in decades. I’d thought of her often, but never known where she was, or even what her name was after so long. Somehow Abbie found me on line, and sent a message through the blog contact form.
I was delighted to hear from her, but the email sent me hunting for my high school yearbook and its abundance of photos. I hadn’t looked at that in a long time, either, but I finally found it in the third closet I searched. There was Abbie’s face, at the age of eighteen, and mine, and . . . After a few minutes I closed the book and left it on the coffee table, wondering why my years at Coral Gables Senior High suddenly felt like something that happened to some other person, possibly on some other planet.
Last night I picked the yearbook up again and paged through it. It was a big school, still is, I’m sure, and there were nearly 1100 graduates in my class, so I only knew a fraction of them even then. Now I found myself looking at faces and names that I remember clearly, but not emotionally. There’s someone I know I spent time with, but what did we do? There’s someone else whose name or face is familiar, in a distant sort of way, but I don’t really remember why. A few boys I dated. A teacher I was very fond of, no doubt long dead. One close friend I did keep in touch with, but she passed away a few years ago.
And the notes! There was Abbie’s, in a place of honor on the inside back cover. I read notes from people I remember fondly, and from people I don’t remember at all, although the messages certainly sound like I should. One note from someone I remember having a major falling out with–but I don’t remember what happened. The note is a bit snarky, not quite an apology, and I know that what came between us was the sort of high drama only seen in high school, but the details? Complete blank.
Tucked into the yearbook I found a satirical booklet I did remember; I was on the “staff” of the totally unofficial publication. I’ve only skimmed it because it was not only written on a typewriter, it was printed in red ink. But I remember how much fun we had writing it.
Abbie’s timing turned out to be fortuitous. She had already made plans to tag along with her husband on a business trip to Houston to visit a friend now living in the area, so we made arrangements to have dinner. With a certain amount of trepidation (which Abbie shared), I drove into downtown Houston and found the right hotel, not always easy in a city not known for the visibility of its street signs.
We needn’t have worried. The minute I walked into the lobby, we snapped back a few decades, friends again. With Abbie’s charming husband, we walked to a nearby seafood restaurant, and we talked for the next three and a half hours. We would have kept right on, but I had a forty-five minute drive home and work the next morning.
Abbie and I found we remember different people, teachers, places, even events, but we are both delighted that we remember each other.