Idle hands surfing for memories


Occasionally when I’m bored, I’ll search the web for past friends, girlfriends, teachers, or employer news. Sometimes I find a heart-warming nugget.

Last night I stumbled upon a Facebook group about my elementary school, West End Elementary. It had do-you-remember posts about teachers, some of which spilled over into discussions about junior high and high school. And class photos. And who-else-remembers? threads. (I attended from 1962 — 1969.)

I saw names I hadn’t seen in decades. Fun! I cherish the old memories.

But I also noted that virtually every kid’s and teacher’s face was white. No Asian faces. No black faces. No disabilities. Just white. (The rare dark-skinned Italian or Latino kids had an Anglicized appearance.) Everyone was straight and monogamous — whether truly or not.

That’s how it was back then. Society was changing but the rate of change was “relaxed” in Lynbrook. The local politics was Republican, middle-class, and conservative. Conformity was de rigueur.

And so I stopped to consider the stress and unhappiness of pretending to be something you aren’t. I thought about kids with nascent feelings that were inexplicable to their families and friends. I imagined a teacher who knew their career would evaporate if their secret got out. What kind of life can you live if you aren’t being you?

No time is perfect. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reflect, regret, and try to be better.

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