My brother had been assigned the task of cleaning out an elderly friend's storage locker and brought us her metal shelving. Getting rid of the chaff and saving the good stuff became the weekend project. In a box full of the husband's yearbooks was my high school year book.
Other than being a record of the many goofy things my HS friends and I all said to each other, the yearbook also contains a picture with an inscription that is, oddly enough, one of my favorite things. Let's just say I was a late bloomer, but my first kiss was this, ahem, session at a cast party for a play in which I was, I do not think involved, but went to anyway, as those were the types with whom I hung out. The winter before I graduated from HS. It was with, ahem, a boy who was a sophomore at the time, but, let's just say, very mature for his age. The episode itself and how it came about is really quite stranger than fiction, and retelling it would strain credulity or appear to imitate really bad fiction. So I will keep that to myself.
At the risk of narcissism and frivolity (but then again, when have I been afraid of those two concepts?), I will quote the inscription in his entirety. F.L. did not like his sophomore photo, and had been inscribing a B&W candid photo he'd apparently printed himself in the school's darkroom. I have to agree--he had definitely after September, done the sophomore boy thing of suddenly shifting from skinny, gangly boydom to actual pre-mandom. The play he refers to is a one-act I wrote and had produced that spring that freaked out many of the parents in the auditorium as it took place on a bed after an apparent night of sex by the two characters, who then proceeded to discuss their relationship in Waiting for Godot-like terms. (OK, so my 18-year-old self was a bit derivative & silly, what do you want?):
"To me you are one of the great, tantalizing, captivating people who I can never figure out. Indescribably noble, yet willing to dabble. Seeing your play helped me to realize that I am nowhere near to really knowing you all, and unfortunately for me, but probably quite fortunate for you, it is too late. However, for what I do know I am grateful, and I lean back and applaud those huge undiscovered vaults of your refreshingly complete personality which is just beginning to blossom INCREASE! It's great to have seen. Good luck with life and be your own style of great."
I know this is silly, but it makes me happy when I occasionally re-read that every few years.I had not seen myself that way at all--maybe I was never that way. Seeing oneself reflected in that golden light of idealism is a rare and humbling experience. Makes you realize you can try to be a better person or aspire to better things.
Raising Robert and teaching briefly in a Quaker school have taught me to value people for what they have to offer, what they bring to your lives. I used to keep this Virginia Woolf quotation close at hand about people being like icebergs--that what we see of each other is just the small portion that rides above the waterline, but beneath, we are unfathomably dark and spreading and unknowable. To see that part of yourself reflected positively is a gift. To see that part of another shine in such a generous light is also a gift.
Think of something someone once said to you that made you happy every time you remember it. Keep it close and treasure it.