Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Endings and Beginnings

Driven by hormones, the mysterious future, and a sense of life everlasting, we laughed and sang as the cars spun over the macadam, marking time. A caravan of headlights shining through the twilight carried me and my classmates to one last hurrah in June of ’62.

All twenty-something of us water babies chose a long stretch of deserted beach along U.S. 1 as our destination. There would be no one to complain about the noise of our carousing.

We parked behind the dunes, discarded our shoes and trudged up and over the still-warm sand as the waves rolled in under the full moonlight.

Some of the guys dug a deep pit in the sand while others looked for anything dry enough to burn. It was graduation night, and we were having the customary celebration. Someone struck a match, and soon a blaze rose high into the moonlit skies. Sparks caught on passing breezes imitating flying stars, twinkling brightly, then, disappearing forever.

We swayed to transistor radio music as drink lulled our senses. Longtime classmates, we partied together, most likely for the last time. Soon reality would top everyone's agenda.

Innocence would evaporate like smoke swallowed by the salty air and only the embers’ ashes would remain to forge lives from remnants of youth.

But this night we all felt as though we could reach up and touch the moon with ease. We were on the precipice looking over, ready to step off.

Now, it seems a dream almost, someone else’s life, so long ago. I wonder how many of our dreams came true. Six of my classmates are no longer on this earth, but they live on in my memory, stuck in the jargon of one through twelve.

Two others are Facebook friends. We share memories and keep current on the surface, but the freedom of teenagers is gone. Now we are trapped between what should be and what is, what to share and what not.

I wonder about the rest of them and sometimes catch a glimpse of a familiar name in my hometown newspaper. Obits used to be my thing, now not so much. But curiosity still plagues me. I find it's true - I never learned anything from listening to myself.

I was valedictorian of my very small high school class, giving one of those speeches about going out and fulfilling our dreams, a speech like all others, meaningful yet meaningless.


Success, thought to be measured in worldly terms, can only be measured by the individual and is not continuous, but intermittent with failure. If we have no comparison, how would we recognize one from the other? Much of my life seems to have been accidental, determined by fate even, yet I am satisfied by it and have few regrets. In my eyes, it has been a successful life, and until it’s over, I’ll do my best to live it the same as I have done. As someone once told me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Good advice, I think.

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