And in many ways, I was. Canton High School invited me to come speak to five classes on October 9th. I went to CHS from grades 10-12 as a transfer student. Thanks to Mr. Devoid, Miss Ashley, Dr. Dias (world's best high school Principal!), Mr. Farrell, Ms. Hays, and Mrs. Roache for your gracious hospitality. Though the faculty and administration at CHS are awesome, better still are the students...you'll find some shots on the "Fan Photos" page taken by CHS students (one of the group shots of Ms. Ashley's class was actually taken by the Superintendent of Canton Schools, Dr. John D'Auria--thanks, Dr. D.!). I wanted to take a moment to talk to Ms. Ashley's class, who I know read the website and blog, and say how much I enjoyed meeting all of you; you are all remarkable individuals. I was honored to be invited to speak to you and look forward to hearing from you as you continue your life journey. Ms. Ashley's class--you ROCK! And so do all the enthusiastic students I spoke to on Friday--special thanks to my photographers--look out Annie Liebowitz!
What was terrific about this weekend was that I also had the pleasure of attending my 20th high school reunion. It was like looking in 150 mirrors...and I liked what was reflected back at me. My high school class had all the usual suspects, jocks--both girls and boys; bullies--both girls and boys; the "popular" kids; and of course, the inevitable individuals who end up along the margins. Twenty years can change a lot of things--and everyone was more "grown up" with families, jobs, educations--but the individuals I saw again were all good people, and always were good people. That didn't change, and I hope it never does. I was sad to learn that we lost a classmate, Jimmy Tribiani, to cancer. I am an eighteen-year survivor of three cancer diagnoses. Tommy Lane, arguably one of the cutest boys in school (who never seemed to notice me too much), was genuinely happy to see me, grabbing me up into a hearty hug. We spoke of our lives--and he noticed my cane. I told him it was from the removal of a brain tumor and his face visibly fell. He was truly concerned. He was also concerned to learn that I live in New York and hoped my residence in the state did not include being a Yankees fan.... :) But these are my people. These are my peers. My friend Chuck was there, Lauren, Danielle, Sandra, Paul, Steve, and Kerry--who squeezed me so tightly I could barely breathe (which was one of the nicest moments that night--thanks, Kerry!)--and so many others like Sam, Janet, Bridget, Judy, Nicole, too many to name here. The tallest boy in our class was 6'4" tall--the same height my son is today; he was on the basketball team, always quiet, always kind--I was happy to hear he bought a house around the corner from the home where I spent many happy days, and lives there now with his lovely wife and children--his red hair still as fiery as ever. My life took me elsewhere after high school--I had not seen most of the people in that room since the day we all graduated and went our separate ways. There were still those insular individuals who didn't seem to transcend their 18-year old selves, but those were few and far between. The people I spoke to , the people I had the pleasure of connecting with once again, are terrific individuals contributing to society in meaningful ways, whether through politics, as teachers, lawyers, business people, nurses, stay at home moms, journalists, scientists, police officers, and so many other ways I don't even know about. Two-hundred people graduated from our class; those 200 people all went on to lead full lives and do good for others. It was nice to see. I was touched by the instant recognitrion I received from so many, even though I lost my name tag within the first three minutes (some things never change...). My final words need to convey how very honored I am to be a part of that classy class. Go Bulldogs! I may be red all over but I'll always be green and white on the inside....
Live well! In 20 years, when you have the opportunity to look into 150 mirrors, I hope integrity is what's reflected back.