Vail Daily column: Passages and pitfalls
Ryan Summerlin May 1, 2014
A high school classmate emailed news this week that another classmate had died.
Heroin overdose. We’re in our 50s now. Seems strange, and certainly it was jarring.
I understood the heart attack that felled another classmate a month ago. Guess I wasn’t paying attention when Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed, though. Nothing’s age appropriate about my generation.
Still, I would have thought that dying of a drug overdose was something you did in your 20s. If you survived youth, then some measure of wisdom kicked in.
This assumption also is testament to my naivete, I realize — something else we leave to our younger years, like liberalism and a big heart.
But I see my high school classmates, and my college ones, as I knew them more than three decades ago. In our bloom. Younger than my 20-something kids. Doesn’t matter that I hang out with some of my college friends almost every year, old people just my age.
So I remember my high school classmate who OD’d as a forward on the basketball team. I was the rail-thin, lone midget under 6 feet. I have this memory of breaking from a play to pass to him for a layup and getting pulled out for, well, busting the play.
I was more than a little erratic, and the book on me was to let me play until I strayed, then take me out immediately, before I caused real harm.
I understand now.
Dude had some demons, obviously. Only, my classmates and I remembered a big, gregarious guy with more nerve than most. Last I heard, long ago, he was earning a small loot by bookmaking. How I played ball was how he lived life.
His death hit maybe a little harder for the juxtaposition with the incredibly joyous occasion of my daughter’s college graduation tomorrow. Two degrees and a minor! Kid kicked you know what. Wow!
Brightest of the clan, she has a promising life in front of her. The only limitation that I can see might lie in the breadth of her interests. Everything from CSI to Martha Stewart 2.0.
Her dad is intrigued with her felicity with old bones. Her mother is creeped out by that, but very fired up about her fascination with event planning — the crazier and more fast-paced the situation, the better for her calm and decisive nature.
I’m fired up for her, too, and honestly, also worried for this vulnerable next phase between owning her college campus and becoming another youngster looking for work and all that.
Drugs won’t be an issue, but plenty of other pitfalls await out there. I trust her wisdom, far advanced from my own at that age, and good sense to navigate full-fledged adulthood very well. I mean, she’s only proved it over and over again with how she tackled her college years.
No need for worry, I know. But still. That’s my girl, my baby, we’re talking about.
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