Monday, October 17, 2011

Walking With Strangers

Interesting day yesterday as a gathering of old college buddies got together at a local watering hole.

Coming from far away places, they took some of their time to travel just for the reason of each others company.

Reconnected by e-mail after years of marriages, children, careers, and the usual life adversities and rewards, we met in the wooden booths to hugs and smiles accustomed to old friends.

Yet, we are all strangers to each other.

There has been a few emails discussing past shared experiences and links to current artwork, but now we were face-to-face.

Exchanging pleasantries, we settled in for discovering who we were 40 years ago and present to one another, what we think we are now.

Laughter and smiles, breakfast and lunch, quick rotation of tales were shared in a noisy room.

The plan was to wander back through time and visit the school that brought us together so long ago.

Instead of a packed auto, we decided to walk the perfect sunny fall day. The houses we passed have new families, redesigned interiors, and a few paint jobs, but they were the same as we passed back then.

Then we were there. The cameras came out and building that replaced old sites that were digitally captured. Standing in front of doorways where old brownstones were used for sheltering us during our growing up period. “My roommate from 928” became a motto during our wandering.

Three country boys sharing tales of high school and coming to the big city, the city I grew up in.

By now a familiar ease had overcome us. A passing group was asked to take one of the cameras to capture this motley crew, then the other. Joking and kidding like a group of schoolboys in the sunshine, we talked to students passing by without any consequences to grades or disciplinary action.

The stories turned to trying to remember names and showing places where we did what was the most important part of our life education, finding girls.

A quick pit stop in a side coffee shop converted from a bookstore or head shop or perhaps a carriage house introduced some of the gang to a booth full of young ladies. Surprisingly we seem to be attracting some attention from the young.

Pointing out some of the locations and their newly adapted conversions, I become a tour guide. A demonstration is going on in Monroe Park, a parent’s day is in progress, and the school and the city combine in its usual rhythm.

The view of our old school constant construction and expanding is interrupted by predetermined requirements, so the journey turns back to our predestined meeting point. All along the return trip new wonders and old memories flooded every sense along with continued conversation and revelations.

A few more hand shakes and hugs, two final goodbyes, then to kill some more time before the last Amigo had to make his second engagement, we returned for some more libations and tales. Enjoying the eye candy, my booth mate seemed to know every woman in my town from passing waitress to other diners. He reveled in his accomplishments during our youth, probably not knowing we all wandered down that path due to the atmosphere of the time, but stopping to talk to some young ladies before reaching the door, he did seem to have an attraction that most of us do not utilize.

A quick trip to Puppywoods to prepared for his social commitment; the last stranger is introduced to the inner sanctuary and music trends that may entice him to partner some ideas. The seed is planted.

Bid adieu to last visitor and return to the new/old world. A fun reminder of the past time when we were young and were thrown into an institution to combine ideas with strangers and become educated with strangers was over.

It will be back to sending links and photos and emails to stay in contact with these few that I remember from college. Enjoying the time and conversation and fellowship with my fellow mate, they are still strangers to me.

So ends the day of walking with strangers, yet very few know us, including our spouses. Even the ones we share our identities with, know so little about us.

The only one who really knows me… is...?


Art said...


Nice tale though, wish I'd been there!


TripleG said...

"A true friend thinks you are a good egg even though he knows you're slightly cracked."

Art said...

or even if you are scrambled.