But I’ve Been To…..

“We we were in San Paulo last Summer with our two sons on a family vacation.   We wanted to expose them to the cultural institutions and a rich architectural traditions.  It was amazing!  Have you ever been there?” said Fred.

(I was at one of those boring high school graduation receptions, trying to mingle with crowd of complete strangers.)

“Nope.” I said.

I could tell Fred wanted to tell me more so I asked some open-ended questions and listened politely.

“The summer before that we took the boys to Saint Petersburg Russia.  It is a port city on the Baltic Sea….have you ever been to Russia?”

“No. I replied, but I did spend two weeks in Ibiza when I was sixteen…” (My comment fell on deaf ears.)

Five minutes later, Fred moved on to another guest at the party.  I could tell he was  talking about one of his favorite subjects…

Himself.

Himself and his travels to far away places.

Pause.

I remember being at a family reunion several years ago,  the same dynamic was taking place. Some of the cousins were trying to one up each other by talking about certain far away places they’d been to and discussing obscure facts that you would only know if you had been there too.

At the time it left me feeling inferior and inadequate.

I have a forty-year class reunion coming up next month.  I’m not going.  I am pretty sure I’ve written about it here on the blog not too long ago  (but I could be wrong). 😉

I grew up in small town USA.  My high school class numbered around 150.  I spent 13 formative years of my life  (counting kindergarten) with many of these people.  I was small and shy the whole time, except for the last 6 months of my senior year.  I was one of the last ones picked whenever we would choose sides in PE class, because I was so small.

I take full responsibility for the fact there are just a couple of classmates  with whom I still keep in touch.

In the past, I have gutted it out, and attended all the five and ten-year  reunions.  As many of you, I have grown and matured in my people skills, and while no one would ever consider me the life of the party, I do know how to engage in small talk with perfect strangers if I need to.

I can actually be kind of funny sometimes.

Few weeks ago, as I was again mulling over this upcoming class reunion,I decided to reprogram my  dark thoughts with something new. Identify some things to be thankful for, from  my years in school.  Here’s what I came up with:

I met my wife there.  If I never went, I most likely would have never gotten that first date .

I learned to read.

I learned to write.

What really excites me when I compare the person who graduated high school forty years ago and the person I am today is what has happened on the inside. The feelings of inferiority and inadequacy are 80% 90% less than they used to be.

I have navigated the treacherous waters of life, parenting 4 young people into adulthood. They all  stay in touch and  love to come home.  I have stayed married to the same woman for thirty-eight years, and we still like each other….a  lot.

Well, I need to run.  My siblings and I are taking my dad out for breakfast this morning for his 84th birthday.   I am a rich man…even if I have never been to  San Paulo.

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11 thoughts on “But I’ve Been To…..

    • Thanks Martha! Just got home from breakfast with dad and my siblings. Had a good visit….what makes those kind of times even more enriching for me, is dad didn’t really start to pay attention to his relationship with us kids until 8 to 10 years ago..(he was a work-a-haulic in those early years…but decided to do something about it…and it is now paying dividends. Thanks again for your kinds words! 😉 DM

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    • Thank you Jane! If you and your hubby ever feel like a road trip to the Midwest, make sure and put us on your list of stops. 🙂 I know there are races you could could run in….now that you are retiring ….again. Always good to hear from you! DM

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  1. My high school graduation class was around …. 20. 🙂
    I was just talking to my dad about some folks here in my hometown and surrounding villages who had never travelled more than 30 miles from their homes. If you asked them, why they are not interested to go see something, they’d say: what for? I got all I need here.

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    • Have you ever written about your days in school (and class of 20)? I know you’ve written about your times @ your grandparents farm…ps. Saw your offer on Bill’s farm to farm sit last week…I think that is an awesome idea! Take care. good to hear from you Bee. DM

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  2. There were 186 in my graduating class. I’ve stayed in touch with a few, mostly reconnecting over the past few years via Facebook. There seem to be a couple who continue to bask in the glory of the high school days. Not me. As I read once, 10% of the kids have 90% of the fun. And over time we tend to mentally erase all the anxieties and insecurities that come with that age. I’ve only been to one of our reunions. It was awkward. Introverts (like me) are uncomfortable at parties. I pretended to remember people I’d forgotten and I found myself wondering how much people were just acting. As some cynic once said, it seems we spend a lot of our lives trying to impress people we don’t like.

    But yesterday I bumped into a friend from high school at the farmers market. We had a nice conversation. Mostly about gardening after quick recaps of the past 30 years. That’s more my speed.

    Great post DM.

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  3. Hum…while I tend to look to you as the guide, I am drawn to say this…I have traveled the world quite a bit as a teacher and on college internships, social service work, etc. I honestly believe I found myself, my peace, my place in the universe when I found my “barn”. Friends ask sometimes where I’m travelling next and, honestly, I’m so happy at home with my daughter, my animals, my dirt, my plants… I think sometimes why I didn’t find this sooner??! If I never leave here again, I’ll be quite content. I’ve finally come to know myself. I suspect you fully understand 🙂 And this is the beauty I relish in when I read your blog. It’s a deeper knowing of oneself, a deeper self confidence, a deeper happiness, a deeper connection.

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