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 enjoyed the universality of cherishing old memories. I think most enjoy it if their childhood was decent and devoid of horror or extreme loss.
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 were Anglicized in appearance.) Every teacher and kid were seemingly straight, whether truly or not.
That was 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 considered 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 are you living 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.