Here we are on our graduation day, the Melrose Academy class of 1969. That's me in the bottom row, sitting second from the right.
Me, I took a daily commuter train from the Somerton station,
In any case, dinner was wonderful, and I'm referring not just to the food, which was indeed very good,
We talked about high school, who we were then and who we are now, and the role we thought the former played in the latter. We talked about the Melrose teachers and students, especially the girls in the grades above us, who influenced us and who we admired.
One of the girls chuckled over the girl crush* she had as a freshman on an upperclassman. Her admission was rather a shock to me, as I, too, once had a girl crush on an older girl, but I had no idea other girls in the school were girlcrushing. It turned out a number of them were, as I learned before the night was over, when the subject was brought up again while were all standing around in a group after dinner talking and reminiscing about things. We just didn't have a word for it then, and so it wasn't a concept we could verbalize even to ourselves at the time.
My own girl crush was on an upperclassman, a popular, personable, smart, athletic girl who was also a gifted singer, actress and class leader. My crush was born one day when this older girl, who I assumed was in general unaware of my existence, said something kind and encouraging to me. I don't even remember what it was she said, only that it made me feel worthwhile and good about myself. Here was a girl who, in my eyes at least, already possessed the star dust of social popularity to spare, and yet in sprinkling some on me increased her own wealth of it.
I'm sure the girl had no idea of the effect of her words on me and probably soon forgot all about the encounter.
But here the encounter is, fifty years later, still sitting in my memory bank, where it has gathered the interest of time, experience and, hopefully, wisdom.
And if the lesson of that older girl's random words of kindness was lost on me at the time, if I was too focused on floundering my way through the volcanic soup of my own teen-age emotions to realize that I, too, possessed the power of a kind word, well, revisiting that memory was a reminder that it's a lesson never to late for the learning.
It was a gift spending the day with these girls, who still looked young to me.