“Hi Dad,” I hollered into my Blackberry. “I’m at 12th Street BART. Can you pick me up?”
So started my adventure after leaving work in the Financial District to return to my hometown for an alumni event at my high school. I could have easily taken the 51 bus straight to school, as two passed by in the 10 minutes I was waiting, but it’s always good to see the folks. My dad did a drive-by to pick me up on Broadway before we picked my mom up from work at the Kaiser office building on Harrison.
My parents dropping me off at my high school campus was strange in and of itself. But walking toward the newly-renovated gymnasium, I felt like a teenager again. Same height, same weight, no gray hair. Strangely, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve returned to looking like my teenage self. There was my obese stage in college; I snapped back. Then there was that fat stage in grad school which hung around like a bad conscience, tormenting me.
The alumni event catered to graduates from the 90s with a wine and cheese reception prior to a Varsity basketball game. Before signing in, I became elated at seeing my former Algebra and Geometry teachers. “Former” teachers had also been invited. Former is in quotes because they seem to all return to the school to sub. I swear the school is like a magnet. Teachers can’t stay away. Alumni send their own kids to the school. I was most surprised at how easily I was able to recall names on the spot as I made my way around the room–names of alums who weren’t even in my class and were several years ahead of or below me. Why is that the case when I am the worst when it comes to remembering names of people I’m introduced to. In one ear and out the other.
After the reception, four of us from the Class of ’93, snaked our way into a section of the packed bleachers to watch our St. Joseph Notre Dame Pilots play the St. Patrick Bruins. It was a thrilling game not only enhanced by the school band and cheer squad, but also by a vocal crowd of older men screaming.
“Cmon ref are you blind? Our kids are practically bleeding!”
I turned around. White men cheering for our predominantly black team. Obviously can’t be parents. I looked again. These guys were old alumni, former teachers, and parents of kids I went to school with. They get so involved that the support never dies, even after they stop paying tuition. They go to every home game. There’s a whole cadre of them.
Luckily we won the game. The basketball team is the reigning state champion, so fans expect dominance. That wasn’t always the case. However, during my time there, we had our Hoosiers moment and have sought to reclaim that glory year after year. Basketball–always will be my favorite team sport to watch.
I called my parents to let them know not to bother picking me up. It was going to be a long night.