He tells and then pretends to question, You don't remember me. Do you?
Maybe he hopes I do and if that is the case I wish I could help him but I am now experienced in the social awkwardness of returning home. Um. No. I am so sorry. Did we go to school together?
He smiles. Nods.
Were we in a particular class together? What is your name? Did we play together as children?
He shakes his head, We were in a lotta classes together.
I am so sorry. It's senility, dementia. I'm just. I'm sorry.
This was not a problem I recognized within myself until I returned home, the inability to remember a guy in high school classes from twenty some odd years ago. Part of me feels guilt of not valuing someone's importance in a room. The other part forgives me by saying there were one hundred sixty-nine people in the graduating class.
You needed to develop a shorthand, I will say. Your brain is small. You can't know and befriend and cry with and cheer for and hang with more than three or four or ten at the most. Social media was the rotary phone on Papaw's hall wall, a football game, a fifteen minute break by two concrete benches.
High school was a grand time of labeling, categorizing. The artist, the funny one, the girl who cried so much, the cheerleaders, the jocks, the smartest, the prettiest, the guy with long fingernails who would spit like a cat whenever I looked his way. The quiet, the loud, the best dressed, the most likely to succeed. The girl who beat people up, the one who hated us. Everyone was there and some are still here, but the majority of the ones I actually knew, they are gone.
We left in a mad rush from some kind of judgement but who were we to say since we were judging others.
Being a writer/photographer/photojournalist/someone who is attempting to make a living by getting to know people and places and then quickly leaving them is a bit disconcerting if you truly love but have to move on to the next story, the next paycheck, the next getting to know someone.
The first question I will have for my next study is, How hard was it to walk away from such a love?
I mean, you know he couldn't help but fall in love with this guy.
Today I am grateful to understand we are all simply doing the best we can to honor those who cross our paths.