Rochester, NY

I went to my old high school tonight. It had been quite a few years since I had been back to Greece Olympia. The opening of the boy’s basketball sectionals began and we were playing to advance on to play the #1 seed. There were an 8 wins combined between the two teams, but it was a chance to see the old stomping grounds.

Using the new traffic light and driving up the new driveway showed me that things have changed. I met my friend Jim there who graduated with me and played on the basketball team with me. He reminded how things have changed when he told me it had been 13 years since we were there. Wow.

The halls had not changed and as soon as I walked in I was back as an 18 year old. The foyer was filled with students and I remembered back to my friends. To the right was the home ec and counseling area. Straight ahead was the cafeteria. Slightly to the left was the hall that led to the gym and the locker rooms. A hard left sent you past the bathrooms, past where I saw some fights, past the library and some of my friend’s lockers. I couldn’t see the hall where my locker was, but I pictured it. I pictured my friends that were lockered next to me for 4 years. I remembered my combination. So many faces and memories flashed as I walked in. Quite a few of the memories include people who are not living anymore. It made me sad but also put a smile on my face to remember them as they lived, not as they died.

I went to the bookstore where a caring teacher had slammed me up against the wall because I was not sober in his class. I bought two blow pops. I walked into the gym. The green and yellow uniforms had changed. The shorts were longer. The bleachers were no longer plain wood and had railings. There was a 35 second shot clock. The Olympia students still sat in the same section. I was older now and sat where my parents used to sit. My old junior varsity coach is now the varsity coach. I shook his hand. I saw my old varsity coach as well and yelled down the bleachers to him as he walked by. He didn’t hear me and went across the gym and sat. Jerry is still there. Jim arrived.

The game started. He and I rehashed old memories. Olympia took the lead and was up by 6 when the first half ended. I went out in the hall and saw my friend Randy’s dad. Randy and I grew up playing together since I was 5. He lived the next street over. His dad caught me up on him and his wife and 4 kids. He asked about my book. I told him almost there. The second half started. We won. We probably won’t next time.

I didn’t see anyone else I knew. I wanted to walk the halls and go see my locker and my homeroom. I wanted to picture the days of being carefree and living with an innocence that didn’t last beyond the summer of 1993. I walked out the main doors into the cool night.

The memories still flash as I write. All of my friends. My teachers. My haze. The girls. Sports. The parties. The drama. I’m glad things have changed. I’m glad I still have the memories.