Getting together with former classmates brings back memories, fosters friendships.
Published in the Nashville Eye Column of The Tennessean, May 5, 1993.
It was as if nothing had ever changed. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought we were still at Apollo Junior High and the bell was about to ring for us to go back to class.
But we were in the real world now. Our lunches together had been moved from the school lunchroom to Church Street Center’s Food Garden. No bells rang, but we had to hurry off just the same. Beth had to see an important client; Donna had some work waiting on her desk; Rhonda had a meeting to attend; and I had to pick up my children.
Where had the years gone?
Beth and I had been together since the fourth grade, when we won second place in the three-legged race. To this day we still have witnesses who insist that we should have come in first. From then on, even though our legs were no longer attached, our hearts were.
In seventh grade, we met Donna. She looked as scared as we did, and she laughed a lot, so we fit together perfectly. The three of us managed to survive in our confusing new world of adolescence, and we ended up loving it.
Our lives were busy and our minds were full of questions – thus came our important discussions over lunch. What are you going to wear to the basketball game? Did you hear which couple just broke up? Do you think he’s cute? Mike wants me to ask you if you like Todd…
It became a lunchtime ritual. A time to treasure each moment for what it was. A time to laugh, cry and get advice. A tine to hope for the future. A time to share.
That was what junior high was all about. I don’t remember any of our discussions being about science or history, but I guess we did OK, because we made it through to high school.
It was there that we met Rhonda. She was a year younger than the three of us, and we assumed she could benefit from our maturity and wisdom. We took her in and became a foursome.
We were members of the school marching band, so we were constantly involved in rehearsals, Friday night football games, or band contests. In our spare time, we worked together at McDonalds, so it was hard to find us apart from each other.
Those were great times. But soon, we reached a turning point in our young lives. With graduation, we faced many life-changing decisions and the time had passed for consulting each other for every choice we made.
We were on our own.
The years passed quickly for us as we all followed different paths into adulthood. College, marriage, and new careers kept us busy. With an occasional phone call we stayed in touch, but we rarely found time to see one another – until we finally met for lunch.
It had been five years since the four of us had been together, but something told us that is was time to resume our lunchtime ritual. Perhaps it was because we missed each other and needed a good laugh. Perhaps it was because we wanted to update everyone on our hectic lives. But I think it had more to do with the fact that even though we were all grown up, we still found ourselves in a world almost as confusing as junior high, and we knew we could better handle the challenges as long as we were together.
Whatever the reason, we treasured the moment for what it was: a time to eat junk food, laugh, cry, and ask advice. A time to hope for the future. A time to share.
As we parted I marveled at how much we had changed, and was thankful for the ways in which we remained the same.
No matter how many years had passed, the results of our discussions were the same. We left the table with a better understanding of who we were, where we were going with our lives, and the value of true friendship.
(Grimes, married and the mother of two children, is a dispatcher for the Metro Police Department.)