Never let them go!


Black and White. Grainy. Shirts and Skins.

Friends from junior-high , whom I shared the ping-pong tables and school canteen.

We sat through civic lessons, English lessons, Math tests and Lab tests.

The photo must have been taken at one of those off-site PE classes.

I learned about honor, honesty and history; the institution and the Constitution. Friends looked out for friends, clique against clique.

Pass the ball, you selfish b…

Play your guitar but with less volume!

(Invaders from a rival school) They are coming (so we stuck together , believing there were safety in numbers.) Often times, we got a kick out of pulling pranks on our English teachers or being chased by the Priest who tried to protect his church lawn.

And inch by inch, we grew from boys to men.

I remember being picked for the school magazine sales team (to visit nearby high schools – notably co-ed) and learned to pitch (and got my first date with daughter of a furniture store owner).

I reached out to new classmate, made new friends in our high school band.

John Lennon‘ s Imagine served as background music, to place us in context

(classes resumed normal after the Tet 68 incident).

I grew up with those now-men-with-wives-and-grown–up-children.

We weren’t fully grown men back then. In school uniform, crew-cut and unbounded energy, we roamed the school yard: volley ball, football and ping-pong.

During recess, everybody ran, jumped and rushed from one place to the next.

Recently, one of the guys on the Skin team just dropped in (via a phone call). It forced me to look up old photos, among which, one of mine, taken at a cousin’s wedding.

You can run from the past, but you can’t hide.

Sure, the waist line grew and hair-line receded. Just signs of maturity, which means hard-earned lessons in character formation i.e. learning to deal with intuition and inhibition.

When you know someone from high school, you know him well.

After all, habits were formed during those years: taste for food (not fast-food), for fashion (bell bottom) and for friendship (tribal kinship).

We listened to Elton John’sYour Song“, theme song for a siesta-induced radio program.

“I’ll buy a big house,….” or Seasons in the Sun “skin our head and skin our knees”. I knew then just as now, that the ride wouldn’t last. And that fate will alter our course (after all, we were living in war-time).

And I wrote in our Wall Poster that year “whichever turn we end up taking,

let’s greet one another later in life as if no time had passed in between”.

I sure hope for this at our reunion.

I sure hope I can still recognize some of them.

And most importantly, to find myself once again, as seen by others.

Of all the ills society exacts on us,  the worst is self-alienation.

I am still stuck with a desktop and have not had I-pad 1, much less I-pad 2.

But I refuse to be viewed from a materialistic stand point. We were put there in the same class by our nearest grade distribution.

To be among peers as we walk down memory lane is a luxury. That’s where a man can for a moment, experience reverse transformation back to a boy. This time, please pass the beer! You can have the ball. I miss them already, those guys in grainy Black and White photo, the only class picture I have in my possession after years of moving around.

This time, I will never let them go.

P.S. We ran into one of the guys in that same picture this past summer, after 40 years of drifting apart. Wow!


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