Unexpected Journey

David Bales, left

April 10, 2011

The serendipity of discovery on the web is old news, though it remains a hallmark. I was reminded of this recently when, as a longtime subscriber to Classmates.com, I received an email about the site getting a new look and name, Memory Lane. I clicked the link and immediately saw links to yearbooks from my alma matter, Winter  Park High School (behold the power of cookies!). One featured my younger brother David’s class, 1970, the first to graduate from what back then we called the new school.

Surely I browsed through David’s yearbook around that time, though I was mostly away at college. But I don’t remember and probably wasn’t that intrigued. Flipping through the pages online so many decades letter was mesmerizing — and bittersweet. Not only did I see him and my other brother Bill in all their youthful glory and geekiness but also two of David’s closest friends, long dead. They looked so alive, one beaming with a gorgeous classmate whom I lusted after, the other a gifted athlete, and later a sociology professor, clawing the air for more distance during a long-jump competition. Seeing them made me ponder the holes in my brother’s life that not even his precious family of wife and two sons can fill.

I guess Memory Lane is the “time machine” that the CEO of its parent company touts. Without my unexpected journey back, I wouldn’t have seen the photos, wouldn’t have remembered so much, wouldn’t have brushed up against the jagged edges of pain not my own.

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