Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Reunion

I've never attended any of my high school reunions - not the 10th, 20th or 30th. It's scary to think the next will be the 40th! The only class reunion I have ever attended was over 30 years ago, a reunion of Mrs. Capps' students.

It was held at her house in Palos Verdes one Saturday evening in December, eleven years after we had graduated from the 6th grade.

A good number of her former students managed to show up, although it was disappointing that not all of them did. My memory being what it is, I can only remember a few of the ones that were there.

Two classmates I had trouble recognizing. One was James Hattori, who at present is a CNN correspondent and has had a long reporting career. The reason for not recognizing him is because he had slimmed way, way down since the time we were classmates and was now downright thin.

The other, who I will just refer to as "Jet," looked very different from the rather plain, quiet girl I had remembered in the 6th grade. In fact, I was sitting there wondering if someone had brought a friend - a very cute friend - and then I put the clues together and figured out who it was.. duh, stupid me.

In my typical roundabout way I wound up asking my friend David, who was at the time seeing her friend Elaine, to find out if Jet had a boyfriend.

But that's not what this post is about. I always think fondly about Mrs. Capps and our class - by a wide margin, it was more like a family than any other class I've been in. It was filled with kids who had loads of potential. I don't recall exactly what all of them were doing at the time of our reunion, but I know many had done admirably - James, for example, and so had many others.

At that time I was an aimless person. I had just gotten my teaching credential and was working as a substitute teacher for the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District), hating every moment of it. I know subbing is not representative of a true teaching experience but I had already figured out that teaching was not my alley. It would have been different had I been enthusiastic about teaching.

What I felt most about it, though, was that I had let Mrs. Capps down. I am not denigrating teaching in the least; but here I was in a field I really did not feel suited to be in, there mainly from choosing something because I didn't know what I wanted to do. Others at the reunion were on their career path while I was swimming around.

When I was in the 6th grade, I knew that Mrs. Capps had thought I'd go on to big things in life because of the potential she saw in me. And at the reunion I was ashamed because I wasn't doing anything "big" and had nothing in the pipeline, either.

I don't believe you need to be rich or famous to be successful. You need to make use of your God-given talents and do something you truly love to do. Only by doing so can anyone be truly happy. Back then, my definition was different, though, focused more on success having to do with engaging in something regarded by society as having high status. Either way, I didn't meet the criteria. And like I said, I felt that I had disappointed Mrs. Capps. I felt no pride when I responded to her asking what I was doing at the time.

Perhaps as I grew up I thought life could somehow be like the video below.


Anonymous said...

It was great having a “reunion” over lunch with you today. I was stunned for a while when you mentioned a true reunion of Mrs. Capp’s students. I was thinking that Elaine would have let me know, then it hit me. That was a very dark and dreary time for me also. I was broken hearted having a girlfriend that was studying in Oxford for that year. Really bummed. I was spending some time trying to get things straight. Um… it really was not that bad, I was in Hawaii-kai living two blocks from the place that they filled Magnum PI for 6 weeks. Did my Mom call me while I was in Hawaii with the notification? I sit here trying to remember if I did not get the word of the reunion or was so I heso-ga-magattiru, had my belly button turned around that I could not get along with the world, let alone my elementary classmates. Was I too ashamed of what I was doing at the time? Being a gigolo has never been socially acceptable.

What a wonderful teacher Mrs. Capps was. I wish I listened to her more. Once at an open house she told my parents and I that I should go into 3d art. I thought it was just a nice way of saying I sucked at reading, math, social studies, history, and English. I ended up taking 12 hours of 3d art classes per semester while attending a college that awarded no units for lab classes, did not have an art minor let alone a major in it and loving it.

Mrs. Capps would be very proud of you Rickie. It’s not just because your kids would make anyone proud and you are a contributing member of society. She would be overjoyed because you are content with yourself and your walk with the Lord.

Rickie Miyake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rickie Miyake said...

[oops I made a typo in the previous comment so I deleted it]

Well thanks for the nice comment, "Roach" (haha..). I'm sure that Elaine would have gotten in touch with you so it must be as you said, you were out of touch with everything. Like we talked about yesterday, I only remember a few people as being there for sure, and told you the reasons why I remembered those particular ones. Don't forget to say hi for me to the one of the particular ones that you see on Sundays..

Mrs. Capps was indeed a wonderful teacher. Despite you not going into 3D art, you've done great!

And you are right, I am content with things and count my blessings, so I sure can't complain. It was good seeing you yesterday and be on the lookout, your name will be appearing here in Saturday's post!