Castle Park High School is 50 years old this year. To celebrate, alumni threw an all years picnic recently at Horizon Park on East Palomar.
I, among 300 people, was there. â€¨â€¨When Castle Park opened in 1963 the land that Horizon Park sits on had no gazebos, no benches, no barbeque pits. The jackrabbits that inhabited the area had no need for these items. â€¨â€¨Flash forward 50 years. Gazebos shaded the alums reconnecting on benches. Catching up on life, children, jobs, job loss, lost loves, parents lost, and new loves. The barbeque pits were ablaze to fueling the stories the alumni told.
At first I wasn’t going to go. I thought I was too cool for such an activity. Like Facebook, I thought a high school reunion event was meant for middle-aged men on the make. High school snobbery often lives long after you’ve thrown your cap into the sky. â€¨â€¨I had many invitations by phone, text, email, and Facebook message. I wouldn’t respond. â€¨Over the years I took the unfriendly attitude about seeing old friends. Something like, “If I don’t have time for my current friends, why would I meet up with a friend from the fifth grade?”
But I have been in touch with one childhood friend Karilyn Dickson. A week before the all years reunion she drove from New Mexico to California to deliver her grandchildren to her daughter before the start of school. She planned on going to the event. When I told her I didn’t want to go, she wasn’t too happy. Karilyn can be that way. She wasn’t happy that she would drive from New Mexico to Los Angeles, drop off her grandchildren, then go out of her way to Chula Vista and I wouldn’t drive from my home in nearby Nestor.â€¨â€¨ I had a change of heart.
The change rose from knowing the value of getting together with someone who you knew that long ago. There’s just something about being surrounded by friends from your old stomping grounds. We played four square together. We wore the same clothes, hairstyles, perfume. We listened to the same music and liked, or didn’t like, the same teachers. The sidewalks we walked on to school, the chalkboards we stared at, and lessons we learned, including life lessons, are recalled when we’re with friends from back in the day.
We don’t live on those streets anymore. We don’t play four square any more. And we certainly don’t wear those clothes anymore. At least I don’t think we do. Please let me know if you see a middle aged-man wearing a leisure suit and platforms, or a 50-plus-year-old woman sporting a Farrah Fawcett winged hairdo and Dittos jeans. â€¨â€¨On those benches I found I wasn’t alone in losing a sibling to cancer. I wasn’t alone with an aging mother who walks with the help of a cane. And while I walk slowly beside her, I know I didn’t pay much attention to her when I was 17. Now she’s on my mind all the time. I was consoled by other mothers with daughters’ who have chosen paths that don’t make us happy. We comforted each other reminding ourselves that way back then, we didn’t choose our mothers’ paths either.
So, when you have an opportunity to attend an event where you’ll see friends from back in the day, just go. Share a bench like you did back in the day. Bring what you know now to the bench. Share a burger. And share a story that goes beyond that cap-tossing day. In the stories you share and hear, everyone will find themselves.