Thursday, July 25, 2013

Don't Stop Believin'

The high school quarterback is dead. Cory Montieth died last week of a drug overdose. During those heady halcyon days of high school (or TV high school) it’s hard to imagine death. The end is as far away as the beginning. Everything is fluid and in progress and seemingly forever.

Though, as with many a graduating senior, it is equally hard to imagine what’s next.

After the ceremony, the parties, and a summer that feels like intermission—before starting the next big thing—the recent graduate can put off the future, at least until the fall. Sure there are expectations: possibly college, to suddenly grow-up, to start acting responsible, or suck-up and get a job, but that is out there, not now.

Yet with the passing of time the high school football star fades, the incoming class of freshman forget his name, because what matters to them is now. Eventually the golden glory tarnishes. The next thing arrives and one has to start all over again.

Some can make the adjustment, some stay forever in high school.

I remember the high school jock a couple of grades above me. He was a tanned, blonde wonder-boy with the kind of open smile that leaves one thunderstruck. The prospects for his future were endless. He was popular in the way that people sincerely liked him, even the ones like me who weren’t popular. I’m sure (because I would never know) that there is a certain invincibility, a self-confidence that comes with being so handsome, successful, and popular. Just like with Cory Montieth, after a night of drinking, coming back to his hotel room and taking a hit of heroin, death seems like something only mortals have to worry about.

The football hero I’m remembering died at the end of the summer—perhaps it was 1975—killed in a car accident. We never got to see if he got fat, bald, trounced from life’s disappointments. He left us at his height. And for the rest of us, old, fat, bald, and broken, he is whole, sun-kissed blonde, flashing a dazzling smile through the driver’s side window, before pulling away into traffic.

Do you have a high school story to tell? Use the news as a prompt. What happened to all those beautiful people from back when?

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