Who Are Your Classmates?

In March of 1974, I dropped out of Canyon High School, disillusioned with life, school, family, and the world. Like the movie “The Breakfast Club,” I was lost in a reality I could not describe and sought to hide from in the foam created by the colossal human waves of Navy life – All the while continuing my marathon walk down the “happy” road of chemical destruction.

A few times between 1974 and 2010, I was randomly contacted out of the blue ocean of life by strange and foreign messages of far away “Class Reunions” that I never thought I could ever belong. After all class, reunions were for people of “normal” life that actually stood on stage and received a “real” High School diploma. They certainly were not for people such as I who never felt they fit in or belonged – much less who ran from a mystery life that was unseen and unknown by countless oblivious onlookers.

Why would a class of students, in their right minds, that I was always on the out skirls of, really want with seeing me?

Then one hot Arizona day, the miracle of grace was freely presented from such an unlikely source. You see, many years ago, with the encouragement of my daughter, I ventured into the world of cyber networking. Yes, I am talking about Facebook. Content with my life of isolation, I continued onward into the world of cyber-hood anonymously: Content and happy as a “Goony Bird” following a ship at sea – the albatross that never touches the sea – always inches of wave and swell in the wake of the massive vessel going nowhere with determination.

An anonymous message from cyber space, introduced me to a Mark Cathy I never knew before. From a teenager that I had little in common to a friendship grounded in mutual salvation from the perpetual destructive highway to hell. Ultimately, after 35 years, I felt I finally had something in common with at least one “classmate” from Canyon High. Though our roads in life were very different, we both had emerged into the light of serenity.

Then others from a distant past started popping up unannounced but extremely welcome today. Next was Chris Yorba, whom later I discovered had been following my personal studies and thoughts for a while via my personal blog.

Before long, I was invited to yet another reunion, and this time the graceful offer was warmly accepted: The invitation as the unofficial photographer of new memories of new “old” friends.

One thing leads to another and before the albatross could safely land from flight, new friendships were growing from teenagers and coaches from a seemly prehistoric time, thanks again to the encouragement of my daughter. New friendships of wonderful people are growing today from anonymous people I hardly knew though my self-imposed isolation as a youth. New friendships planted during adolescent life: Vickie Timm, Coach Bowden, Pam Powell and her brother Mark, Deborah Farr, Cheryl Metcalfe, Pauline Stewart, Debby Dambacher, and Sunbie Harrell.

Old acquaintances made new such as: Mark Gerhard, Suzan Rich, Karen Cook, Elaine Beno, and Sulyn Marchbanks, (who I discovered shared a similar vocation).

New “Old” friends from days of days gone by: Landy Railey (who opened her home to all so graciously), Valerie Ventrola, James Barrette, Tom Lambrose, Vicki McIntosh, Iafeta Gasu, Kim Githens, Billi Jo Ragland, Denise Oldfield, Cindy Bickerstaff, Gary Druilhet, Mark Lamph, Paula Gogin, and so many – many more – all reunited from cyber land into a new brilliant certainty.

Real classmates are the people that find room in their hearts to extend warm love, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness for the antics spouted of misguided adolescents.

By the forever-merciful and exceeding grace of our living God, on November 13, 2010, lovingly, the prodigal child was welcomed home by the Canyon High School Class of 1975.

Guy Lewis, Payson, Arizona: November 24, 2010

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