Me, Twenty-Five Years Ago

Twenty-five years ago, my Grandmother took this picture. She was likely excited, though not in the least bit surprised, that I was wearing my Dillard University shirt — having been accepted for attendance the coming Fall. Dillard was our family school. Located just blocks from our family home in New Orleans, LA. My attendance marked five generations of our family having attended the school. My Grandmother was not only an alumni but also on the Board of Trustees and a major donor. My acceptance was certainly less due to my academic performance as it was simply a matter of birthright.

The summer that stood between this picture and my leaving for NOLA (the local term of endearment for the city) was what I still consider to be the best of my life. Everyday of this time was both routine and full of surprise and wonder.

That summer, I would awake, dress, and head almost immediately over to my friend Derek’s house a leisurely walk away. We would hang out from late morning until early evening. Lifting weights in his basement, jamming to the latest music (some solidified classics as well), driving his Trans-Am to the liquor store to buy a case or two of Miller High Life for the night ahead, being thankful that we were so well recognized that our fake IDs would not be subject to further scrutiny, and generally having as few cares as one does as that age.

Come evening, other friends would show up, their cars pulling up in front as we sat on the front porch tipping back a few. Derek was one of those guys that knew everyone. Every school has that guy who everyone loves and is the center of the social. As such, he would have the line on the parties, band jams, gatherings, and places to be for the evening. We would pile into vehicles and head out, not missing a single one. Derek would have them all memorized by cross streets and we generally, perhaps not mistakenly, believed that the party would not really start until our arrival.

For the first time in my life, I forgot how skinny and awkward I was. I forgot my natural introversion. I forgot my true and natural place in this teenaged society. I was one of the cool kids. I knew the parties would one day end. At some point, the Fall would come, I would leave, and the social capital I had right then would mean nothing where I was going. To me it seemed twenty-five years away. All that really mattered was the night and trying to make it last just one more day.