The younger years. I was now 4 years old and ready to brave the free world. Kindergarten. Acorn Learning Center had taught me all it could, and I was ready to graduate preschool, and brave the new waters of a new school. The school my parents had chosen was Seven Hills School, a decision that would turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life. A kindergarten through eighth grade school nestled in the hills of Heather Farms Park, not too far actually from where I was born in Walnut Creek, CA. The student body was about 300, or about 30 kids per grade. This meant each class was split into 15 kids each. For the kids, this was great, but I imagine for the teachers, this was heaven.
I had moved on from breaking toys, and was now tasked with counting beans and writing my first short story. My memories of kindergarten are sparse, other than those two accounts, and where the class was located on campus. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the year I would meet one of my best friends, Corinne. We would go on to share many more memories over the next 9 years together at Seven Hills, and countless more after. I was actually her “maid of honor”, along side our other best friend Cam, when she would get married many moons later, and I am happy to report we still talk to this day, 29 years later.
Now first grade was a different animal. Like the Jefferson’s, I had moved on up to a different part of campus, and freedom felt like an understatement. We had a beautiful basketball court right in front of our classroom, and monkey bars not too far away. And don’t get me started on the sand box. A 20 by 20 box of paradise, where we would pretend the sand was lava, that if we touched we were a goner. We lost many kids that year…. My teacher was Ms. Malin, and she was an angel. I don’t know if we realize just how important teachers are to the development of our youth, and there wasn’t anyone better than her. She was kind, yet stern. And she was a far cry from who I would eventually run into next year, but we’ll get to that soon.
First grade was also the year I met my other two best friends, Cam and Kristen. Because I was familiar with the school and campus, and most likely because I was a fellow young lad, I was paired as Cam’s buddy when he started school that year. I was tasked with showing him the ropes. What to do and not to do. And of course, show him that sand box. Essentially demonstrate how we roll at Seven Hills.
That sand box would be our sanctuary. I can’t think of many days that weren’t spent in that box of granular substance. Or how many times we both “died” that year. Him and I didn’t know it at that time, but we would be inseparable from that moment on. Until of course we were forced to separate in high school when he moved VERY far away. Distance would ultimate prove not to be enough, but I’ll save that full story for another post.
I actually told that story at his wedding, as his best man, 25 years later, a gift he would repay to me 4 years later at my own wedding. I spent weeks trying to come up with a speech that could capture 25 years of memories. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. You would think having 25 years of memories would make it easy. But it was the sheer volume of shared life events that would ultimate prove to be the biggest challenge.
I eventually landed on the best story of all, the day we first met. The first day of the rest of our lives, if you will. Even though we both live on different coasts, distance has never been an obstacle for us. We meet up every year, or at least try to. And now that we’re both fathers, I look forward to the day our kids will get to play. Providing us with memories of us when we were their age. And remind us of our days as kids, back at the sand box, hoping not to touch the hot lava and perish.
Miss my previous post, Where It All Began, check it out, here.