Todd and I live in Maryland but at Christmas and briefly in summer visit Fullerton, California, where I grew up. This year I’ve made additional visits alone, owing to illness in my family. Waiting in line at the Amerige Heights Target on one of those trips, I nudged my sister. “Look, that kid must be on the Sunny Hills football team.” He wore a sleeveless sweatshirt with a football and the letters SH on it and had the build of a running back. He was Asian American, as I believe the majority of the students at my high school are now. (Who would’ve guessed that the white bread Orange County of 50 years ago would become a melting pot, like the Brooklyn and Queens that I, as a high schooler, read about in history class.) I wanted to tell this youth that my sister was in the first SHHS graduating class and that my class was having its fiftieth reunion this year, but kept still, knowing his life revolved around the here-and-now. He smiled our way politely, probably seeing himself as a dutiful representative of the football program and perhaps thinking the elderly couple glancing at him had a grandchild at the school. I felt confused: on the one hand, very much my age, on the other as though I were seventeen again and wondering how our team would do next fall, hoping we’d finally have a winning season and beat arch-rival Fullerton.
I remember my mother, in her eighties, saying she still carried a mental image of herself at eighteen.
To my classmates, and to all the classes of ’66 as you celebrate your 50th reunions, may you be forever young, but with the contentment that comes with age.
(Photo at top from Helios 66, Sunny Hills High School Yearbook, 1966.)