Blindness kept me from seeing their faces but the voices I recognized. These were the same voices I’d heard fifty years ago, laughing and yelling as we ran wildly through our young lives. My mind saw their youthful smiles from back when we had all our hair and could walk without canes.
We’d grown up in the same neighborhood of Fauntleroy, a small community on the edge of Puget Sound in West Seattle. Little did we know then just how blessed we were. There was Lincoln Park with its beach, Colman Pool, tennis courts, and a grass field that turned to mud in autumn and became the site of countless epic football games. There was Fauntleroy Elementary School, now over one hundred years old, where we all met and then proceeded on to Denny Junior High and then Chief Sealth High School and first loves, embarrassed dates, first cars, and strange teachers. And, there was the Fauntleroy Y.M.C.A. and the Leaders’ Club, our home away from home, where we learned the value of service and the joy of teamwork. It was a world where we felt safe, where neighbors talked and helped each other, where we ran about at all hours without the slightest hesitation.
It was a world that has passed by.
But, for an afternoon, I was back in that magical place with friends I’d not connected with in fifty years but with whom I was closer with than people I’ve known for the past thirty.
I’ve been wondering what “happiness” was lately, but now, days after that reunion, I realize I spent that entire time smiling. I was with friends again, guys I’d loved, trusted, and shared life’s adventures with. Somehow, with the sad exception of one, we’d all survived our own life journeys to meet up again, now grown men watching our own families grow up.
I’m still smiling!