There’s nothing better for the soul than getting together with old friends. They keep you real. They remind you of stupid things you’ve done in the past so that any danger you may have been in of harboring an overinflated ego is gone. Needless to say, my soul is happy and my ego is within the healthy range after the activity of the past few days.
I have had three friends visit as of late: Alex, one of my college roommates; and then Scott and Kate — two people I taught with in my very first school. Alex is also part of that latter group, but I separate her because she knows a little more about me than the other two. She knows way too much, actually, but I also have similar knowledge about her, so we’re even.
When the four of us taught together, it was the first job for Kate and me, but Alex and Scott were in their 3rd year of teaching. I had landed the job after Alex called me and suggested that maybe I’d like to interview for the empty English teacher slot that was opening at her school. I had been a couple years out of college and my then-current job had me going down another possible career path, away from education, so I said no. Alex did what a kind, caring, sensitive friend would do: she didn’t take “no” for an answer and she had the principal call me again to personally invite (beg) me to interview.
Oh, okay, then.
The rest is history, as they say, and I was teaching with my college roomie and I met Scott and Kate. Scott and Alex would move on to other jobs after that year while Kate and I stayed on, but we all had a year of teaching together, and that was enough for a plethora of memories. For what we couldn’t remember, I stepped up and provided what all good friends need at certain times: proof on video.
I had happened to take a couple of snippets of video from the good old days. WHY, I don’t know. All it really did was highlight how inept I was to have my own classroom in those days. I mean, it was supposed to be class, yet I was allowing kids to video each other. Helloooooo, teacher of the year! It was obviously the end of the year, but I still wonder what was going through my head. While watching the video, which showed various teachers trying to manage end-of-May chaos, it was evident to all of us: none of us knew what in the freakin’ world we were doing. We all went to college and had our education degrees, obviously, but not even student teaching prepares people sufficiently for what they experience in their own classrooms and the dilemmas we’d have to face. You wing it, really, and no teacher who is honest will say otherwise. Even a teacher who prepares his/her lessons down to a T during that first year can deny that when it comes right down to it, you wing it. After all, there is no preparation for dealing with teenagers on a daily basis. There is no class that can possibly cover it all.
So this past Monday night, we visited, we remembered, we laughed a lot, and we enjoyed some margaritas. Life was good.
Although Scott and Kate had to return to their responsibilities in life, Alex is staying with me for a few days, as her home is in Colorado and it would have been a really bad idea to send her driving back there after a few margaritas. This has given us some time to go back and reflect a few years before our teaching life, and true to my way of doing things, I dragged out another handful of videos of our escapades in college. Some observations we had during viewing:
1) We had no idea how good we had it: three good friends (Alex, me, and another girl named Suni), living in brand new apartments, working jobs we loved, and having a lot of time to “hang out” in between classes. We had a nightlife. We talked about a lot of boys. Stupid boys, yes, but that social life was one happenin’ scene.
2) We were incredibly naive: at one point in time, all three of us roommates were dating members of the same social circle, and they were all jerks. ALL of them! We took too much crap and then whined about how hard love was. Today, we’d probably just tell each other the grow up and suck it up and get on with our lives. Life is too short to waste it on stupid boys. We didn’t quite get that then.
3) We had no sense of fashion: college days were during the early 90’s, when the librarian look must have been in and everyone seemed to have overly large round glasses. I had them, and so did Alex. There’s a reason we took them off before going out for the night. We had a vague suspicion that they were not conducive to the dating scene. And I am so glad that I have the proof of my dorkiness on video. Not.
4) Good friendships stick: I had known Alex since my freshman year of college, but I had know Suni, our other roommate, since I was five. Among the three of us, there’s a lot of history and a lot of good times. Although we all live far apart from each other, we can always count on life getting back to normal when we’re around one another. We’re a little older, a lot wiser, but the good memories will always be imbedded in our ever-shrinking brains. Even if one of us forgets, the other two will remember, and that’s how we keep the good times alive.
These past few days have reinforced the importance of keeping in touch with those old friends, no matter how many months or years it’s been since the last phone call or visit. The people who knew you “way back when” are often the people who can remind you of who you truly are. And these days, it seems that we gather more and more distractions that keep us from experiencing the joy of old friendships. Sure, we can visit with them on Facebook and keep up with their lives, but nothing beats being able to talk to friends face-to-face or at least over the phone.
The people who knew you back then are the people who keep you young. Today, I feel about 21.