Blog 2: Formative times |

Blog 2: Formative times

Don Rogers

(Blog 2 aims to write the book from before the idea through the final work.)

Over the weekend, Our Hero finally played the DVD of his 30th high school reunion last summer.

It was disappointing as a production. Too many close-ups of what was that, carrot cake, at the dress-up affair. As if anyone would care a whit about the food or furnishings at such an event. Annoyingly, the same people kept showing up in the frame, while the camera missed so many others. And of course, no one had much of interest to say. Everyone quite naturally was happy to be there. Yada, yada.

But playing film critic was to miss the whole point of the clips. Watching the DVD was an echo of the reunion, where ghosts from long ago reappeared as real, albeit much older people. For sensitive souls such as Our Hero, this was completely dislocating. Thirty years. From this side of the time, suddenly it had passed so quickly.

Our Hero felt layers left by the whole epochs since childhood exposed. It felt raw, although now he at least knew this was a shared phenomenon. But also, this going back provided an opportunity to poke around, almost geologically, amid strata he’d mostly forgotten.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Catching up with classmates as adults now was pure joy. So nice to be freed of the adolescent insecurities, even if we’ve grown new ones to take their place. These old folks he once knew as teens actually were pretty cool.

But Our Hero, a brooder even by adult standards and still all-too self-absorbed, didn’t entirely leave the reunion behind as the good time it was. For months afterward, he thought about childhood through high school and the early years afterward, about how this all shaped the present.

The present doesn’t just show up on its own, mind you. The hometown he left so long ago and the high school had a place in today, like it or not. If he’d evolved as a person since then, the root remained.

Everyone shares in enduring childhood and adolescent drama, the outsized events, having little clue about what the grownups seemed to know so well, all the tensions that come with growth, development, discovery. So yeah, it’s a special time. So precious, too.

It’s amazing anyone survives to full adulthood. But they do, tempered here, sculpted there, from this middle- to upper-middle-class LA suburb generally well educated and rather well cultivated. Engine of American mid-management, with a few brighter stars and fewer outright failures.

From there, he leaped. To Hawaii. To Santa Barbara and all over California ” outside LA, that is. Then across the country. Restless, questing, serendipitous, always moving. Paying insufficient attention to the past, and caught up in a busy, busy present and not looking ahead in any methodical, what-ya-doing-about-retirement sort of way. That ain’t Our Hero. Good thing he has his wife, the banker’s daughter.

Now, roosting in Colorado’s High Country, giving his kids a place to be from these past six years, there’s more space for reflection. That must be it.

And so, reflecting on this slice of personal history, Our Hero fastens on three people from this epoch outside his family who played key roles in helping shape who he is today.

We’ll meet them next Blog 2.

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