The Good Old Days
Let me paint the picture for you: a crisp, autumn day, beautiful fall leaves, bright sunshine, blue skies. The band plays as the football players rush onto the field amidst the din of cheering fans. It's so perfect it could be a scene from a movie. But it’s not. It was last weekend at the Carolina / Wake Forest game in Chapel Hill.
I’ve never been a big sports fan. My alma mater didn’t have a football team, so I never knew what I was missing. But my daughter is in the marching band at UNC-Chapel Hill, so in order to be good parents (that’s what we tell her anyway) Paul and I have gone to several games, and I have to admit it’s a great feeling - one I wish I had experienced when I was in school. It would have been a different college experience had I been able to.
Something very interesting happened at our last game. (Besides the fact that UNC beat the, until-then undefeated Wake Forest.) One of my husband’s good friends from college happened to be at the game too.
She has been in Los Angeles for most of the years since they both graduated from UNC. Despite the distance, they have stayed in touch. I don’t think she has ever missed a year of either sending a birthday card to Paul or a Christmas card to the family.
We were so excited that the stars aligned, and she happened to be on the East Coast and attending the same game that we had chosen to go to. We found some empty seats where we could all sit together, and we talked away most of the second quarter.
They caught up on what had been going on in each other’s lives, families, places they’ve lived and things they’ve done. And once they were all caught up and up-to-date, the reminiscing began.
She would ask Paul if he remembered a certain place or class. He would think about it and admit no he didn’t remember that. Then he would ask her if she remembered an activity or a party. No, she would admit.
After so many “do you remember” questions there were inevitable jokes about getting older and how bad their memories were.
But after the classes, the parties, the events, the questions became “do you remember so-and-so?” And while there might have been small pauses, the answers were almost always yes. It dawned on me that while places and events may be exciting at the time, they may not be strong enough to remain in our memories. But the people almost always do. In the moment we focus on which classes are the best, the easiest, the hardest; we look forward to the big party, the game we have tickets for or the upcoming concert. Years later when we start looking back, those memories have faded, but the people we shared them with haven't. It’s the friends we allow into our hearts and lives that make our lives memorable. So while being back on campus and waxing nostalgic was fun, connecting with an old friend was the real treasure.