When I was a kid, Field Day meant a single file march down Mamaroneck Avenue to Gedney Park for serious competition in the sweltering, late-June heat. There were ribbon winners for sure, but mostly losers in the various contests which all seemed tailored to showcasing Jason Mazzurco’s gymnastics-fueled superiority. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
I edged him out in the broad jump one year though (he was pretty short). I proudly relayed this to Margo in a pep talk the night before her Field Day. She laughed because at her school it’s not a contest at all. No awards are doled out and the kids couldn’t care less. Per tradition, the parents of the graduating 3rd graders show up en masse to douse the kids with Super Soakers for a grand finale. Man, I’m really going to miss this little school.
I started writing this column when Elliott was a kindergartner, flash mob dancing with the six-foot owl mascot at his first community circle. Now he’s two schools hence and a rising 7th grader. Yeesh. It makes me want to freeze time at best and at least, savor Margo’s last couple weeks at Oakhurst Elementary. They should set up onion dicing stations at the Moving On Ceremony. I know it’s irrational since it is only 3rd grade but If we’re going to be crying anyway, we might as well make fresh salsa for the parties that weekend.
The last time I felt this kind of connection to a school was when I graduated college. I remember pulling out of campus and thinking – do I really have to leave? Funny enough, my 25th reunion is in a couple weeks so it’s my chance to relive those days. But if I want to fully participate in that weekend’s offerings, I’ll need to get on a plane to Boston and miss out on some of the 3rd grade pomp and circumstance. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m torn.
A 25th reunion always seemed as distant as assisted living so it sort of crept up on me. I would love spending a weekend with old friends and acquaintances. I’d hope nobody looked too old, or too young. And I’d hope I would remember names and that people would remember mine. And it would be fantastic if every encounter wasn’t simply a rundown of life stats: Place of residence, job, spouse, kids. Maybe we could just put all that info on the nametags and skip right to playing beer pong?
I’m guessing there would be some familiar faces from the old party crowd, others I used to play basketball with at the Rec-Plex and I bet I’d feel the forever bond with people from my Freshman dorm. How could it be anything but a blast? I could brag to my fellow English majors that I have a monthly column and that occasionally I’ll meet someone and they’ll say, “Oh I know you – you’re that guy that writes that thing!” Success is pretty sweet but I’d make sure to not come off as conceited.
Naturally, there are some classmates I’m not so sure I want to see. I get the Alumni Magazine and read blurbs like When not homeschooling her six children, Sally indulges her passion for playing violin with the symphony and has recently been promoted to Director of Strategic Development for Planet Earth… And if a guy has a full head of hair AND a beach house, I might throw my Caesar Salad at him. The weekend is ripe with possibilities!
That is, if I go. And honestly, I probably won’t. Maybe I’ll go late? I don’t know. Torn between the ceremonials of looking back or moving on, I’ll probably choose the latter. I might have more reunions, but this is Margo’s last dance with a six-foot owl and I just can’t miss it.
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at email@example.com.