By Josh Beavers
So, I really don’t have much experience with homecomings. Meeting people for the first time again. What I mean by that is when we go years between seeing someone, talking to them, those people become strangers to us once more.
Even if you were the closest of friends for years, let a decade go by and that bond will wither and likely die. There’s nothing to keep it alive.
I guess that’s why people like reunions. Homecomings. Class gatherings after so many years apart. I saw that this past Friday when I went to a local high school’s homecoming. It wasn’t my school. I was there for the football game and to take pictures for social media.
Before the game, the classes of 1962, 72, 82, 92, 02, and 12 were honored. The further back you went, the fewer returnees there were. Taken by time, or distance, or loss of interest.
Because that’s what life is. A series of gains and then losses. Of highs and then the inevitable lows. Of either going into a crisis, currently enduring one, or living that sweet life where you’re in the blissful bit after coming out of one.
Out of the crowd came bounding a red-headed memory. It was an old friend and colleague who had gone on to brighter lights and bigger things. She was at the game to cheer on her niece.
The word “sonder” means having a “Profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.”
Tim McGraw also summed it up in “Where the Green Grass Grows.”
Six lanes, tail lights
Red ants marching into the night
They disappear to the left and right again
Everyone on the field had their own unique lives with hopes and dreams and fears and accomplishments and failures and strengths and weaknesses. They are just as strong and powerful and varied as yours.
From 10 to 50 years apart, the ones gathered for homecoming joined to share in that human bond, the need and desire for belonging and calling others your own.
It wasn’t mine, but it gave me the chance to meet someone again for the first time. I sorta understand now why people go to class and family reunions.
It felt good to meet again. It was a lesson learned and a small bit of growth given to me by God.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been honored five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.
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