Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yes, the View Really Is Different Up Here

I found out that my high school class was having a reunion in a couple months. 

I won't be there.  It's just not in the cards.  The trip is too far, and so forth.  Wouldn't mind, but it's just not going to happen. 

It got me thinking about those things, reunions.  They're great for getting caught up with what happened, but someone said that after a while they become a party for finding out who had just died in the last five years.  After all, you keep in touch with those who mean the most for you, and while you have good intentions, those connections fray after not seeing people.  The Prom Queen and King may have been the most important friends you had ever had when you were in those hallowed halls, but move away, and they fade to black.

Cue the picture of the old school tv set with a dark screen and a white dot fading into the past.

There were some friends I had in high school that I did keep up with for years after graduation.  Some even made it into college with me and into later life.  Jim was one of those people.  He was probably one of the most gentle people I had ever had the pleasure to meet.  When I made it to Drexel University, his room was about three floors below me in the same dorm, Kelly Hall.

Kelly Hall was this concrete block slab that overlooked the campus from a high point on a hill.  If you were lucky enough to have the right window, you had a panoramic view over the train yards, past Fairmount Park, and Center City Philadelphia beyond.

I can't say I remember my view being all that spectacular, and neither was Jim's.

Since many of our classes were the same, we'd hit the books together when his roommate wasn't there.  The little 12 by 8 room made out of highly painted concrete blocks wasn't made for comfort, but utility.  Late Teenage Boys can be incredibly destructive.

It did help to have him there, studying on Chemistry, Calculus, and various Computing courses, so we spent a lot of time there.  Eventually our classes diverged, but our visits didn't. 

He did have a roommate there, Joe.  Joe didn't have any classes or common interests there so he was not in the room too much.  Nice enough sort, he eventually became a Resident Advisor for a while.  Not really sure what that gave him other than being the guy in the hallway that they paid somehow to listen to guys complaints. 

But he did have the patience for that sort of thing.  Listen to complaints, act on them, and generally be involved.

One of those days toward the end of a term, he stopped me.  He said that he could always tell when I was in the room that day.

"How on Earth can you tell?"

Now Joe was a full foot shorter than my own 6' 4".  Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you.  But Joe had something of a valid complaint.

"Every time you are here, everything is moved out of reach!"

We all had a chuckle out of that, but I had to explain "It's part of the territory, it's a tall guy thing.".

I realized he wasn't getting it so I noticed a chair.  When I told him to stand on it, he did so reluctantly.   We stood eye to eye for once.

"Now, look around the room.  What do you see?"
"Wow, it really is different up here"
"You're right, it is.  I'll try to make it a point not to move things, I'm not doing it to annoy you".

From that point on we became a bit closer friends.  I stopped putting the snacks out of reach, he didn't have a complaint.

The crowd moved apart after that.  We all went on Co-Op and when we came back, Jim moved back to his family home in Medford, NJ.  We didn't see each other in school all that much more.  With a changed major, and the discovery that the dorms really weren't as good as the basement of the library for cram sessions, things became more focused for the eventual graduation.

This story came to mind with the coda that Jim's gone.  He passed a couple years back.  A good friend who died in a car crash on an icy South Jersey road in Winter.  Another good reason not to like Winter, it takes good people away.

Even if they do put things on the high shelf.

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