Thursday, February 08, 2007

an old friend and a tollbooth...

He really was the first boy I ever cried in front of. I was 18 and had just said my goodbyes to my then-best-friend and his was the house I went to. When I cried, his eyes watered.

He was prince of the prom - I was queen - and if I had to drive to the next town over to return movies on a Thursday night, he usually rode shotgun.

And then, like all things high school, he disappeared.

Now he's a news producer. He followed the rules, went to college, finished and there he is, trying like hell to work his way to 'on air' talent. He says he's getting close to burnout. I tell him I'm already past it.

It's always odd to speak to someone after you've not spoken to them for so many years. Especially someone from that dreaded high school age - when we were all a bunch of pathological liars...trying to be someone we didn't even know.

"You gotta love the cards we were dealt," he says when I ask him who would have thought we both would end up two starving journalists looking for our spotlight - or our front page. "Great minds tell the best stories." And we promise to get together when we're in each other's towns. But we most likely won't, because that's the way it goes. Even though - for some odd reason - I'd really like to. We all like to dip into the past from time to time...

And speaking of the past...

If you've never read Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth as a child - it's much better read as an adult. Over the weekend, the book sitting on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, looked so inviting I picked up a copy - since I'd lost my childhood one - to reread and pass along to another young mind.

"What kind of place is Expectations?" inquired Milo, unable to see the humor and feeling very doubtful of the little man's sanity.

"Good question, good question," he exclaimed. "Expectations is the place you must always go before you get to where you're going. Of course some people never get beyond Expectations but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not."

I fear I've gotten stuck in Expectations. I had so many growing up. I've clung to them and refuse to let go. I can't decide which expectations are healthy and which are not. If there really is a land of Expectations - then there must be a bridge called Acceptance that is the only way out.

Now, if I could only get over my fear of that particular bridge.

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