As I sit here I am still overcome by emotions so bittersweet, that the only way I can sort through them is to write it out.
Saturday morning I was driving home after a workout. It was one of those fresh autumn mornings that sparkle with possibility.
I drove up Laurel, and looked to my right, toward the center of downtown. There they were. Young students from all over the state, lining the side streets with exuberant anticipation.
At the far end of my view, one band was already in formation, trumpets and tubas glittering in the morning sun, uniforms all crisp, waiting for their turn in the parade.
Ready for the future, the future that of course belonged to them. The sight of them just about destroyed me.
And looking to my left, in the direction of the beach, I passed the spot where less than 12 hours before, a sixteen-year-old boy had been stabbed to death.
He had probably been ready for the future too. But not that one.
I drove through those young dreams – my own past, so full of getting ready for something huge, something that stretched on and on and would never end. As well as the dreams that would never come true.
My throat grew tight, I couldn’t breathe and the tears began – just as they have as I’m writing this. I was in the middle of something that completely mastered me. I am grateful that I could feel it.
That high school marching band, standing – sparkling – on the side street, looked like an America I grew up in. An America that has slipped away. It isn’t that I fear change, or am clinging desperately to some long-gone stereotypes. Just that it was a glimpse of something that cannot be again. The little boy dead underlines the death of that simple, expectant time – a time in every person’s life, a time in the life of our collective yearning.
It hit me hard, all that joyful energy, gearing up for a performance on a fabulous October day – oh and the irony of it being the 20th anniversary of the earthquake was folded into my sudden wave of sadness too. The joy on one side of the street, the loss of everything, on the other. And I drove right through the center of it, filled with despair for something I can’t quite put a name on. But I’ll bet you’ve felt it.
Still flooded by this sense of loss, I’m thinking now of Bob Worsham, Christie Carlson, Leniece Wu, Maurice Dubin, Jerry Kleiner and Danny Gouin – all of us who were young together, and for whom it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.