Archive for December, 2012

Dreaming of Miss Summers

“Girl Surprised by Gift” by Sparkle Girl

This column first appeared in the November 2012 issue of Forsyth Family magazine:

When I was in the first and second grade at Forest Park Elementary School, I had a friend named Danny. In the third grade, I went to a different school and that was that. I didn’t see him again.

Since I moved back to Winston Salem, something would remind me of those days every now and then, and I would wonder about how the lives of Danny and my other friends had turned out and whether they are still around. Not that I did anything about it. You know how strong inertia tends to be when it comes of following up on such thoughts. I never even took the rudimentary step of seeing whether Danny’s telephone number was listed. Then came the day when I received an email about a student winning an award. Right there, after “daughter of,” was his name – updated to Daniel sometime during the more than 50 years since I last saw him.

When I inquired as to whether he might be the same person, the answer was yes. An email or two later, we made arrangements to meet for lunch. We were meeting the following week, so I had plenty of time to think about my life in the time since I saw him. Whenever I think about the life I have lived so far, I inevitably fret about some aspects of it. I find myself wishing that I had more money in the bank, that I had spent more time writing and that I had eaten fewer powdered doughnuts along the way.

Of course, such thoughts don’t stop me from choosing to eat another doughnut the next time one is offered. Those petty disgruntlements aside, I feel grateful that I was given the life I have lived. The day before we were to meet, my back went out. That hadn’t happened in a long time, and I wondered whether that was a coincidence or having to hobble into the restaurant was life’s way of having a little fun while reminding me that it’s best just to be who you are and to let the rest of it go.

I cannot tell you that I would have immediately recognized Daniel if I had walked by him on Trade Street. I can say that, when he walked into the restaurant, there was no doubt about him being what you would get if you imagined Danny eating right and exercising regularly on his way to becoming a husband and a father of award-winning children. He looked good. He had brought along our class photos from the first and second grade. When we showed them to our waitress, she pointed right to me in our first-grade photograph. I was glad that the 6-year-old I was once was is still recognizably there.

I wasn’t one of those boys who went through a period of not liking girls. I always thought they were pretty swell, and I was in love with Miss Summers, our second-grade teacher. We talked about her and about our classmate Ronnie, who had the first color TV I ever saw. And we filled each other in with lunch-length versions of our lives since those days. He was easy to talk to, and I found myself telling him some things that I would have skipped with many others.

The combination of those photographs bringing back such vivid memories of those days and the Daniel of today sitting right there made it seem, for a time, as if 50 years was nothing at all.