Last night, I attended a wake for the brother of a guy I went from jr. high to high school with. Though he is still in the area, I have few occaisons to see or run into him. He and another guy were my main buddies, through thick and thin, in high school. As we stood in the reception area talking, the other guy walked through the doors. I haven't seen him since high school graduation as he went on to an out of town college, a career, marriage and family and a new home in New Hampshire.
Though a solemn occaison, the mist of time was dissipated with remembrances of our years, our bond, through high school. From our first days as freshmenl, we immediately found a strong mutual bond which was forged even stronger from watching out for each other through that period of turmoil. From day one, it was fending off upper classman trying to sell us or force us to buy tickets for the "pool in the basement" -- there wasn't one. It was fending of the groups from Southie, Eastie, Roxbury in the cafe, gym and the afterschool rushes to the bus. As we talked, we each remembered different pieces and incidents that the others have forgotten but we all remembered and felt our bond.
The bond was no more tested than in the final days of our senior year. On senior "hook day", the Chinese kids stayed in school (talk about stereotype) while many of the seniors disappeared for a day at the beach, drinking and doping. Some of then decided to come back to school towards the end of the day. A bunch of them racially harrassed my friend's girlfriend in between classes. My friend got into it briefly with them in the hallway. It stopped, he started towards his next class when the bunch decided to have a go at him again. I was already in the classroom when someone (?who) came running in and said my friend was getting jumped in the hallway. I remembered running out and the fight started (a race riot really). There were probably 5 or six of us against a whole bunch of doped up, white boys. I don't remember much else except that the fight went down and we held our own. We downed quite a few of them before an army of teachers and staff broke it up.
Yesterday, I got another perspective on the affair. Evidently, they had my friend against the wall. The Chinese kids came running out, me included. My friend said I threw the first punch taking out one of the guys that had my friend against the wall. The riot started from there. Afterwards, my two friends got pulled into the headmaster's office. They explained how the "dopes" started the harrassment but made no mention of my involvement. They got a verbal slap on the wrist and we all went on to graduation and our separate ways.
Although the three of us were close, I had always felt the other two were closer together. They both studied White Crane style together while I studied Uechi. They were both studious and made the top 10% of the graduating class while I goofed off and made, let's just say, the top half of the graduating class and leave it that.
Of course, part of catching up included asking whether each of us are still practicing. One of them is now doing Tai Chi and the other nothing. As I talked about my practices, especially the FMA's, one of them pulled his knife. The other looked and pulled out his. And, I of course pulled out mine. We looked at each and laughed.
Something from those high school years has shaped us and still bonds us together after 25 years.