Thanksgiving for the past makes us thankful in the present and hopeful for the future. – A.C.A. Hall
Twenty years ago, I said goodbye to Hopkinsville High School. I packed up my diploma, what belongings I had, and never turned back. I ran actually. I was quick to leave the past that caused me a great deal of pain and ready to start something new.
Twenty years later, I found myself sitting at Senior Lopez, a local Mexican restaurant, celebrating my 20 year reunion. So much has changed, yet so much remains the same. My friends and I screamed with excitement at the first point of contact. We hugged. We embraced. We shared stories. We laughed until we cried. In that brief moment, we were reminded of who we were and how far we’ve come.
The day after, I took a stroll down memory lane to see all that I had and all that I was. I drove downtown to the Alhambra, the theater where I performed tap and ballet recitals for 12 years. I stopped at Ferrell’s, one of our favorite late night hotspots, peeked my head in so I could breathe in the greasy onion filled air. I cruised through our public library and found the pillow filled claw tub where I read my library books. I walked along the banks of the Little River reminiscing about the canoe races in “Little River” Days.
The final night of the reunion was wrapped up with dinner and dancing. The D.J. played all of our favorite tunes from the 90’s. Yes, we took more pictures 🙂
- How many kids do you have?
- How old is your oldest kid?
- How long have you been married?
- Who is the least changed?
Zero, zero, zero, were my responses to the first three questions. Where was the question about who has never been married or ever birthed a child? Isn’t that important? 🙂
I hesitated on the last question. I actually I left it blank. Was there a correct answer? Haven’t we all changed? Haven’t we grown and been altered by life’s experiences? Haven’t we all let go of our childish ways and matured into healthy, secure adults?
If I had the chance to poll my classmates, I would have asked them this.
“What have you done in the 20 year gap of time?”
- Have you lived or just gone through the motions?
- Have you suffered at the hands of defeat?
- Have you tasted success?
- Have you loved passionately?
- Have you failed miserably?
- Have you lost something precious to you?
- Have you received something better?
- Have you made a life better?
- Have you given when you had nothing to give?
- Have you humbled yourself to receive?
- Have you laughed?
- Have you cried?
- Have you held on tightly?
- Have you let go?
To answer the questions, I would say yes to all. Yes, I have lived, I have loved, I have lost, I have gained, I have held on and I have let go. I have walked many miles of hardship during this gap of time, but I have also experienced more joy than I ever thought possible.
We get so wrapped up our status (single, married, divorced) and our looks that we lose sight of what is really important – relationships, experiences, and what we can offer to the world.
As it turns out, I was not voted the least changed, nor did I win an award for the only single person in the place. However, I reconnected with old friends, made a few new ones, and embraced the past that I so quickly left behind.
So, if you were to answer the questions I raised, how would you respond? Have you embraced the life you have been given, or would you still be sitting there unchanged?