why is it that we are drawn to that place like some mid-atlantic secondary education version of mecca with flights from new england and drives from the gulf coast all seeming perfectly normal and why should they not?
somewhere among the sounds of the bawlmer o, chuck thompson’s voice, the lyrics of maryland my maryland, and 98 rock circa 1980 we fell in love. with a building.
the red brick and pea green trim look tired and the rust on the window frames is visible from any distance and this is amplified by the beautiful sepia brick replacement being built to its right. as much as you want (need) the building to be there forever and wonder from your home three hundred miles away why the wrecking ball is necessary but as you actually approach it you see the pain and as you leave you hear a faint voice saying that it’s time. please I can’t do this anymore.
the cafeteria looks smaller and our bodies look larger and I suppose that both are the result of a long thirty years that disappear when you see classmates and teammates that commonality and life experience have turned into brothers and sisters with kids of their own. a band plays 80s songs in the gym and we don’t dance now like we did then but rather struggle to connect today’s faces and golf shirts to yesterday’s yearbook photos and velvet bow ties.
behind the school the football field has turned into a parking lot for construction vehicles with a chain link halo that shares what’s left of the turf with the ghosts of blue jerseyed boys in front of six thousand fans under the proverbial friday night lights with horns and flutes and refrains of hooray for bobcats and we only remember the wins and with memories like that aren’t they all wins?
and so you the next day you return alone and sit on the remaining set of bleachers under the perfect blue sunday morning sky and the breeze pushes the ninety degree heat and you realize that as much as you need to go home that something is keeping you there and not letting you leave and an hour goes by. and then two.
we do love the building and that’s why we came over a thousand strong to say goodbye but that thing that keeps you there with the high school before you and bel air in the distance is not just the building itself and you realize that your love is not just for the structure but what you learned there. about yourself.
when you finally drive away and the tears subside and the school gets smaller behind you your phone rings as if on cue and your nine year old son who knows of your love and that you may be struggling says dad are you ok?