by Connie E. Curry
She is black, I am white. Linda Carroll enrolled at Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, Ohio, in 1971. She was shy, and appeared sad and frightened. She was of color and different from students at a predominantly white, country school.
She stood alone near the office that first day. Was that for security? I wondered about her and felt pain for this new minority student. Courage doesn’t hide in a cave and I knew she had courage. I was drawn to her and wanted to comfort her and offer friendship. She accepted my invitation for lunch and a friendship grew. We shared a common interest … sports. We led our school to victories on the basketball court.
We graduated and life took us down different paths and new lives. Her parents left our community. I never forgot her and I often looked for her. Many times when the new telephone book came, I looked for her name in hope she was back in my area. I called many wrong numbers in surrounding areas hoping to find her.
One day an unfamiliar e-mail message appeared. I am not sure why, but I opened it. (I ALWAYS delete unfamiliar mail.) The e-mail simply read, “Connie, I don’t know if you remember me, but I attended school with you. You made my days happy and I just wanted to thank you.” Of course her name had changed. I never would have found her.
Remember her? How could I forget this brave girl, forced into a school that did not quite know how to interact with her, who brought me so much joy.
I shared the news with my family. I immediately wrote back and couldn’t wait for her response. I was curious about her adult life; where she lived, and whether she had children, a career and happiness.
We rekindled our friendship, shared family stories and pictures on the Internet. I could almost hear her laughing as I told her all the silly things about my adulthood.
She had recently been very ill and survived against all odds. My dear friend fought again to enjoy life and won!
She recently came from Florida to see her old home, and there were two people she wished to visit. Mr. Dewitt, her bus driver who stood up for her against racial slurs, and me. It had been 30 years since we had last laughed together. It was as if those years were never lost. Our friendship picked up as if it were 1974. We drove by her old home and Buckeye Valley High School, and visited Mr. Dewitt.
I am grateful that I had entered my name on a high school reunions web site. This wonderful technology reunited two friends who won’t be lost again.
We laughed like teens, and I knew when she left that we would reunite another time.
About the author
Connie E. Curry, a freelance writer and columnist in Ohio, loves to write nonfiction humor and personal interest stories. She writes for many magazines, and won the James Thurber Humor Writing Contest. She is a member of the New American Voice, a Delaware Writing group and Write Life Writing Group. “Life is full of humor and my three children and granddaughter give me the tools to put laughter into words.”