Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of going back to my hometown, Pleasanton, California. The purpose of the visit was to present a scholarship in my brother’s memory to a deserving member of Amador Valley High School’s Class of 2014. My parents and I did just that, but that wasn’t all that we did. I moved away three weeks after I graduated from high school in 1988. Though I have visited on occasion over the years, I hadn’t spent any real substantive time there, nor have I been able to spend time with the people who were so important to me during my early formative years. So though we could have achieved the objective that was presenting the scholarship with a surgical strike, there was an opportunity to over-achieve. Needless to say, we took it.
I had the privilege of sharing the stage in the school theater with my Dad as I addressed a cross-section of the student body and their parents. A stage I had stood on one other time, 26 years ago. That time, I said nothing and graciously received my appointment to the Naval Academy. This time, I had the privilege to use the microphone as means of celebrating two great men: my brother, who had his adventure called short last fall, and a young man with an amazing adventure on the horizon. It was an energizing way to start the visit, but it proved to be just one of many meaningful interactions I was grateful to experience over the short stay. In fact, I was able to spend time backstage with my high school football coach and personally express my gratitude for all of the life lessons learned on the gridiron.
Later that night and the majority of the next day my parents and I took a nostalgic tour of my hometown. We saw the house my parents raised us in, drove by the athletic fields on which we kicked soccer balls and fielded grounders, ate at one of our favorite pizza parlors, and shared memories that were all of the sudden easy to recall. As if the memories weren’t enough on their own, a small group of people was able to take us up on our last minute invitation for an impromptu meet-up. We didn’t rehash old memories, but we did catch each other up on the significant adventure that each of us has been enjoying since we went our separate ways years ago. I was able to enjoy the company of my next door neighbor throughout my youth, one of my best, yet admittedly most under-appreciated friends (and his family), a teammate from the football team (and his family), my most cerebral and critical thinking buddy, and a young lady who always had a special place amongst my friends.
Though I wasn’t in town long enough to justify putting my watch on local time, it was as if I had suddenly relived my 16-year stay in that one-time small town. As I think about the high school seniors that made up the audience when we presented the scholarship, I am excited for, but wouldn’t change places with, them. My good fortune is far too abundant to believe I’d be fortunate enough to duplicate it. I hope their adventure is as meaningful to them as my brother’s was to him and mine continues to be. I hope that after years of absence, they will be able to plug and play into friendships formed in our hometown. I hope they are able to create memories that give them reason to reflect and smile.
- When was the last time you went home?
- When did you most recently connect with longtime friends?
- How might you inspire those who are now sitting in seats that you once sat in?