This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, and also about the future. For most of this year I’ve been static, motionless, not knowing my next step. I decided that I needed a change of scenery to clear my head and refocus. What better time and place to turn over a new leaf than the East Coast in autumn with the vibrant changing of seasons.
A few days ago while catching up with a dear friend, I learned that a classmate of ours from high school recently passed away. This news left me stunned. This was someone my age, someone that I knew. We’d lost touch after graduation, but we’d been friendly since our freshman year when we worked together on the school newspaper.
We once wrote an article together and shared a byline.
I was passionate about basketball but didn’t know the game as well as he did. Although I’d been going to high school games with my dad since I was four, I never played hoops myself aside from the occasional game of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway. He was on the freshman team so he was connected, in the know. The thought of interviewing the players and coaches was intimidating at first; they were local celebrities. I was shy and soft-spoken. It was journalism that brought me out of my shell and gave me an identity, a voice. With our steno notebooks in hand, the two of us broke into sports reporting by getting quotes from each player on the team then crafting the article together after school. Of all my memories of him, that is my favorite. He was someone who helped me develop the self-confidence I needed to become a journalist.
All week I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around it, to reconcile the image I have of him as a sharp, witty, and charismatic teenager who always had ruddy cheeks and a wide smile, with the knowledge that he is gone. I never would have imagined that he would be the one member of our graduating class who wouldn’t live to see the 10-year reunion. His passing leaves me immeasurably saddened. I have nothing but fond memories of him.
Tonight I held my cousin’s newborn son in my arms. He still has that intoxicating new baby smell. He was wearing blue footed pajamas and tiny mittens on his hands to stop from scratching his face. His eyes looked around the room with wonder. I remind myself to keep looking at the world that way.