Friday, August 14, 2009

Facebook and high school

I just love Facebook. It is so much fun to challenge my memory and reconnect with people far away from my daily thoughts.

I have been scouring the names of old classmates, struggling for some kind of recognition. At first, it was all a blur. The more I see though, the more it is coming back to me. I suppose I must mention that I graduated from Proviso West High School 39 years ago. It is no wonder I've forgotten things and people.

Funny, there are photographs posted on the school's Facebook page from 'back in the day.' One of them served as the catalyst for all the memories that were so long ago filed neatly away somewhere in my brain. It was a picture of a classroom filled with kids sitting at their desks; it could have been my own classmates for all I knew.

I looked at that picture and stubborn memories started oozing back.

I could feel what it was like to sit at that desk, usually near the front of the room. There was a clock on the wall above the door in every classroom -- how many times did I look at it, wondering when class would be over or when it was time for lunch or to go home? What does that say about my attention span? Above the clock was the speaker for the school's intercom system where the principal made announcements. There was that blackboard. I remember diagramming sentences on it. I wonder, how healthy is all that chalk dust we breathed? Suddenly, it all looked so familiar.

I saw photos of the school building(s) and tried to recall what it felt like to be there. I remember how crowded it was in the hallway during the passing periods. I remember getting off to a corner away from the moving traffic to peer out the window that overlooked the courtyard as I talked with friends, seeing hoards of students below, crossing from one building to another. I remember the smell of chlorine from the swimming pool that permeated the entire building -- "A building," I think it was?

I remember walking out to the bus and scanning the windows to see who had gotten there already. My arms used to ache from carrying books all the time. That would kill me now. And then there were those stairs -- up and down, up and down, three flights -- all day long. I don't recall being winded ever, but certainly would be now. The hallways were dark in the corners, near the stairwells. Different classes were strung out all over the huge school. How did we get from one class to the other in only six minutes? How did we remember where all those classrooms were, or our locker combinations?

Oh how we hated gym class every day. Now I wish I had a "mandatory gym class." I wish I had that opportunity today, courtesy of the public school system. Today, working out is costly. The gymnastics, modern dance, ping-pong, shuffleboard, swimming, tennis, archery -- it was all really fun stuff -- none of which I do anymore nor have I since leaving those hallowed halls.

I looked at the dresses we wore in those day - blue jeans were taboo. How archaic. Today if I'm not wearing blue jeans, I'm in my pajamas. (I prefer the latter).

And who can't recall sitting in class having to wear nylons -- no, not panty hose -- nylons that were held in place by a garter belt. I can't believe a garter belt is considered sexy. Whoever thinks that way was never a female high school student in the late 60's?

I have never been to a high school reunion. I doubt I ever will. But Facebook has given me the next best thing. And I have enjoyed it.

Want to enhance the memory -- go to your high school's website. Just look at the pictures. Read the last issue of the school newspaper. I just did. I looked at the class schedule too and realized there were some classes I would like to sit in on. My, how times have changed.

As I was reading this post, I just got an email from classmates.com. That was a great site until they decided to charge for free communication. Facebook offers so much more for so much less.

Go Panthers!