Most of today was spent judging at a speech tournament. The funny thing about judging speech tournaments is that sometimes I forget that I’m there to judge, not just see people who I only get to see once or twice a year.
The most commonly heard two words of the day were “Remember when…?
I didn’t talk to too many people from the old days of competing: just my former co-captain and the captain the year after us. But being the lone wolf writer-type that I am, I overheard many conversations between old friends about events I remembered, too, and every time they started talking they started with the phrase “remember when.”
“Remember when our coach did that thing that was absolutely hilarious? Remember that time so-and-so totally clobbered that guy in a debate round? Remember that time the team traveled to Charleston and we all sang Kum-By-Yah in the gazebo in the battery? Remember when we all knew what was going on in each other’s lives? Remember when we laughed together like there was no tomorrow and all that mattered to our teenaged minds was that we were together, right now, today?
“Remember when we were champions? Remember what it felt like to win? Remember what it felt like to lose?
“Remember when we made that banner with all the signatures when a competing school had a student in ICU? Remember going to that student’s funeral? Remember how packed the funeral home was with people he knew from speech and debate?
“Remember when we were all, in a way, the same? Remember how, when we went to tournaments, it was like we had walked into a sea of black suits? Remember how all of us were just black-suited bundles of pure potential that had yet to decide where we were going or what we were going to do when we got there?
“Remember how we talked about how weird it would be once we graduated and moved on to immerse ourselves in individuality? Remember where we came from? Remember what we were?”
It seems as though we all drifted away, my competing friends and I, and became each more clearly ourselves. We’ve changed to different political parties, different hair, different faiths, different lifestyles, or even different last names. But once a year, if only one a year at least, we meet and remember a time when we were less different then we all are now.
Blessings to you all. I remember. I remember and I always will.