Yogi Berra said it’s not over until it’s over.
Never consider a story over until the very last page has been turned, the cover clapped shut, the author pronounced dead and the last nail driven forcefully into his coffin even as it is being lowered into the soon-to-be-sealed and paved over grave.
Because things might change. And the past might take on different and even new memories to reminisce over in the future.
Just this last July, in an absolute orgy of reminiscing, I wrote a few stories about my youth, focusing on my early teen years and my experiences in London – a time imbued with memories so vivid and clear, that even just writing of them made them feel nearly close enough to touch.
And it probably wasn’t the international location, or the experiences in and of themselves; I believe those memories are still so immediate because of the age I was when they happened. At fourteen (going on fifteen) I was just beginning that transition into adulthood… the part that included boys and kissing and first love and the excitement of the possibilities of all that that meant.
(Okay. Puberty. I’m writing about the breathless un-bosomings of an adolescent girl. Laugh if you like – or sneer in contempt; if you don’t have a few adolescent un-bosomings of your own, I’m just so sorry.)
On July 14th 2005 (you can check it out in the archives – ‘War and Remembrance Part II’) I wrote about the International School I attended and the travel perks that come with being enrolled in a school poised on the brink of Europe. The class French trip to Calais began the adventures, but the Swiss ski trip made the much yearned for possibilities real as I fell into an endless series of passionate smooches with the boy I most wanted to smooch.
It was so exciting (I wrote) that I was surprised that I didn’t explode or burst into spontaneous flames from pure excitement and joy.
It was that good.
But then it got that bad.
On the boat train back to London, Wade Cunningham (for that was his totally cool name) grew distant and by the end of the trip was flirting with another girl. My romance was over, my first love finished, my heart became a withered little organ that must have taken entire months to heal.
I wrote in July that though I was over it now (31 years later!) and I had since been kissed and romanced by men I came to love more, I didn’t think I’ve since felt so purely happy, or so completely heart-stoppingly, blood-thrillingly excited as I had on that school ski trip in 1974.
But then about two weeks ago the story came full circle as I reconnected with Wade (sigh) Cunningham through his sister (and my classmate) Caren, who found me on one of those High School Reunion web sites that have become so popular in the past few years.
Strangely, even rhapsodizing about all that dusty unrequited love that had long ago bloomed in my adolescent bosom didn’t make me search for him – to be honest, it didn’t even occur to me… or perhaps if I thought about it, I feared that I wouldn’t have remained even a faded memory to him. After all, he was seventeen! Way too grown up and mature to remember a skinny little kid like me.
But I would have been wrong to think so.
He remembered. He remembered things I didn’t remember (even with all my romantic and fevered rememberings) and he apologized for the past hurt (long forgiven, I assured him) and gallantly told me he’d ended our ten day love affair to protect his own heart from the pain of one day losing me. (Nice touch, eh?)
What a guy. Wade Cunningham. Sigh.
We’ve written back and forth and are still only scraping the surface of the mountain of experiences and memories that have played out between then and now.
And now we go on from here – he and I and his sister Caren and Lisa Bing and Rachel Younger and John Gross, (who we are aware of out there in the ether) and hopefully many more from back then; that patchwork group of disparate students who attended the now long defunct Dwight Franklin International School in 1973 and 1974.
We’re planning a reunion sometime soon and Wade has even offered to zoom up here to Canada to apologize for breaking my fourteen year old’s heart in person, but first he must go to the South Pole.
(Isn’t that interesting? I’ve been assured it’s not diversionary…)
So March, maybe March we’ll all get together in person and compare memories and current lives and describe the paths each of us took to get where we are now.
I’ve told Wade my heart belongs to another, but I can’t rule out at least a single nostalgic smooch – a smooch to remember the past and to celebrate the present, and to firmly place the smooch in future memories.
Who knows? It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.