February 09, 2004

Time Just Doesn't Give A Damn

Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend and I, while visiting my hometown, noticed that a wrestling event was taking place at my old high school. Now, I hadn't been in those halls for ten years or so, so we decided to take a quick trip back through Ryan Rhodes memory lane.

It was strange, in a very surreal sort of way. There was a time when those halls very much defined who I was. Small town schools, I think, have a way of shaping individuals that larger schools just don't. Harmony High School was, for me, everything. There was a strict unspoken code of expectation. You were expected to take part in sports, for example, so that's what I did. I played football, and I played golf, and, more than anything else, I wrestled.

Touring those old hallways Saturday, however, I was struck by how detached I've become from those expectations that so directed my early life. I mean, I could see my younger self, absorbed in those walls, but the present me regarded that school with non-nostalgic indifference. I don't know what I expected, actually. Some sort of epiphany, perhaps? Some unknown closure?

I have dreams, occasionally, that I'm back in high school. I'm either trying to remember what my next class is, or I'm standing in front of my locker unable to recall my combination. Or, sometimes I'll just be perplexed why I'm there at all, because I KNOW I already graduated, and that I went to college, and that I have a job and life. But still I dream of high school. I sometimes chalk those dreams up to an unconscious feeling that I never really finished high school. Because I left Harmony High School right before my senior year to finish school in Tokyo, I think there's something underneath that believes my Harmony schooling was left incomplete.

But, you'd never guess that from Saturday's visit. Any old ghosts that I may have left behind have long since vanished. I may have been able to find my way around just fine, but nothing felt familiar, not even the classrooms my parents taught in for nearly 20 years.

Except for the wrestling room. The wrestling room brought back a flood of memories. Memories of endless workouts, and of my father scratching his head in frustration when I couldn't figure out a particular throw, and of dry heaves, and sweat, and an explosive pride I felt after every practice. It's funny how much I hated wrestling practice, but how much I loved wrestling. My picture is still on the wall of tournament champions, a picture taken my junior year. I was pretty scrawny then, 130 pounds of developing youth who desperately wanted to eat until he died.

And then we walked outside, and I was back in the present, with a girl I love and a life that is mine to decide and that will no doubt, ten years from now, be just as alien as those high school hallways.

Posted by Ryan at February 9, 2004 10:48 AM
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