I like the band, The Eagles. I like them for various reasons and one is their songs often tell a story. I can picture a guy standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ. My wife and I were there a few weeks ago. I can see that girl on a flat bed Ford. Or I smile when I think of the line about city girls seem to find out early. Think about that line for a minute.
"Johnny come lately, the new kid in town."
I heard the song "New Kid in Town" yesterday. That same day I received an email from an old high school friend of mine, Mike. The song made me think of Mike and the time he moved to our little town.
I grew up in a very small town, you wouldn't even call it a town, just a village or a community. Everyone knew everyone, not only did we all know each other, but we also knew everyone's dog's name. Out of our class of twenty-seven, I think twenty-three of us had been in school together all twelve years. It was like a small family. So if someone new came to our school, it was a point of interest. "Whose the new girl, new boy?" This was the most often asked question in school and in the community. And in the fall of 1959 a new kid shows up.
It was our senior year at our small school and we had twenty-seven in our class; about twenty girls and seven boys (pretty good odds). At that time a new kid did come to our town, Mike. Mike was not like a lot of others in our class, and I don't mean in any bad or negative way. Mike had no problem asking questions and he asked questions of anyone, most of all teachers. In class his hand was up more times than a sinner seeking salvation at a revival. Often I would see him with what I might think as a "strange books". He didn't read a lot of sports stuff, but he might have a book of poetry. Poetry? Individually, he took a foreign language with one of the teachers on staff as our school didn't offer a foreign language class. Hey, to some of us, English was foreign. Mike was the kind of kid that was a bit more savvy and street wise than the rest of us.
Mike was not, well let's just say basketball was not his sport. I don't think anyone in the history of our school was ever cut from the basketball team. I am not sure what happened with Mike and his round ball efforts, but I think he exited the gym. In the spring we had a rag tag track team and Mike showed up and, of all things, wanted to be our pole vaulter. Our school didn't even have a vaulting pole; really we didn't. And now here is this new kid in our school trying to climb a pole and get over a bar.
In 2010 I went back to my old high school for our fiftieth class reunion and met up with Mike once again. It was a treat to see him and to reminiscence from whence we both came, and who we were at that time. Mike went on to be a very successful college professor, married with kids and many grand kids.
We have continued to keep in touch and below is something I received the other day from Mike; the same day I heard the Eagles song, "New Kid in Town." Mike said this was something he had written forty-five years ago. He was responding to something I had written on my blog about Willy Loman and the play Death of a Salesman.
More importantly I want to say how grateful I am that in 1959-60 in our little community in southwestern Indiana we had this "new kid who came to our town." In his way he challenged us to get out of our comfort zone. He helped me realize there was a lot of other things and folks that were a bit different than how and where we were raised.
We all must take the time to dream
And think of things beyond the now
When all our aggravations seem
To get the upper hand somehow.
I well recall my younger days
When dream misplaced those ticks of time
As I stole forth a stowaway
O'er seas of pleasure in my mind.
My voyage now is rearranged
Beyond what youthful dreams explore.
Yet time for dreaming has not changed,
For dreams lead on to my unfound shores.
Mike, thank you. You helped me (us) to see and realize that there certainly was a whole other world out there much larger than any of our beginnings.
November 20, 2017