I have been contacted by a couple of people from school in the past few days. They weren't looking for me, but hoping to make contact with others who we shared time with some decades ago now. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on childhood and the wonder years in this blog and I think that may well be a symptom of midlife episodes.
I do remember both these people but I cannot remember ever having spoken to them. One is a girl and I was as shy a school boy as anyone would ever come across so it's not surprising we never had a conversation during school days - apart from being shy I wasn't a "jock" and being bookish I tended to shrink a bit into the background, which was probably exacerbated by the fact that some of my mates alwyas did well with the girls, if you know what I mean.
So for these two people I think I was basically one of those forgettable people, someone whose name you may remember, but whose face was never one that was going to leave a lasting memory, or be easy to recall when the name was mentioned.
There are some things I remember from Burwood High School that seem seared into my brain and will be there forever. But there are far many more things that seem shrouded in fog and have continued to fade, not unlike the photograph here of the front gate of the school. The contrast is going, fading to grey, the corridors and class rooms hinted at behind the walls of the building have also remained for the most part hidden from the view of my memories. The six years spent wandering the quadrangles and learning the things that still echo in the man writing here today, are lost somewhere and may never be recovered.
I could make things up about those days. Talk about the clarity and the teachers who changed my life, or the lifetime mates who I still see. But the truth is that whilst some teachers made a mark, there was no Mr Chips or John Keating in my life. Not their fault either.
When I look back I realise that I was an observer rather than a participator and I regret that, as I regret that even in the observation I failed to record the things that mattered. If I had, I may now be able to recall those days with greater clarity. There's a photo of me here in the Junior Boys Basketball team and I feel I made that team by default too. I could jump, but not dribble, I later learnt to shoot, but back then, I tended to be one of the kids who was last to be chosen in any team or group activity, so whilst I did represent the school I didn't get a lot of minutes. As with the rest of my school life, the other members were far more outgoing and talented than I.
Did I have self esteem issues? No, that came much later on. I wasn't aware of anything different at the time. I was who I was and not capable of being anything else. I froze in social situations and because it made me uncomfortable I tended to use excuses not to go to parties. At school I hung around with a group, but was one of the less inspiring, tending to listen rather than participate. I don't even know now if any of them actually liked me. Maybe I was just tolerated, no threat, so no reason to be ostracised, no dill, so no reason to laugh at me, no opinions or personality, so no reason to be remembered, a bit of a misfit who didn't know he was one at the time.
Sometimes, when I'm alone and thinking of the past little bits of those times come back to me. It's like peering through a window with a blind fluttering in the wind, sometimes revealing the outside world, other thimes threatening to, but rapidly closing it off again. So I will try and reach back to understand why I am who I am, because the one thing I can say is the boy from that school carried baggage with him into manhood.