PRESENT FROM THE PAST

HIND­SIGHT IS A NOT SO WON­DER­FUL THING WHEN IT REFERS TO IN­FORMER’S UN­EX­PECTED HIGH-SCHOOL RE­UNION

Central Telegraph - - OPINION - WORDS: MICHAEL JA­COB­SON

It had been more than 40 years and yet I recog­nised her im­me­di­ately. Some faces stay with you, I sup­pose, no mat­ter the pas­sage of time. I said hello and, a few sec­onds later, she recog­nised me too and we both smiled.

How were we? We were well. Small world, eh? Small world in­deed.

How long have you lived here? Thirty years. You? Less than five.

Been back to Tassie? I was there a few weeks ago. You? Nah, noth­ing down there for me any­more. Mar­ried? Yep. Don­key’s years. Me too. Kids? Two. Me too.

Still love your horses, I said, hav­ing twigged the photo on the wall show­ing her hold­ing the bri­dle of a gor­geous black an­i­mal with a white blaze. I re­mem­bered her rid­ing in the pad­docks be­hind our old high school, all youth and poise, blue rib­bons and gold tro­phies in the sta­bles.

She could swim too. Rep­re­sented the school in back­stroke and the re­lays, didn’t you? Yes, she said, and you were a run­ner. Sprints, not dis­tance, right? Won a state cham­pi­onship, didn’t you?

Nearly, I said. Came sec­ond in the hun­dred. Third in the two.

I asked whether she was in touch with any­one from back then. A cou­ple, she said. Har­riet and Jane. Har­riet has five kids and one of them’s a mayor some­where in coun­try Vic­to­ria. Jane’s di­vorced. Lives on her own. Calls at all hours. What about you? Still in con­tact with the old crew?

No, not re­ally. Didn’t keep in touch with any­one from our year. But then I went to the re­union in 2016 and a few of us now keep in touch on Face­book. We got to­gether for lunch when I was down in Tassie.

Re­u­nions aren’t re­ally my thing, she coun­tered. Too many … not so much bad mem­o­ries … just … I didn’t much like school. Me ei­ther re­ally, I said. Geez, lis­ten to us. We sound like that Dan Fo­gel­berg song, you know the one, the one that starts “Met my old lover in the gro­cery store …”

Same Old Lang Syne, she said. I remember we went to the Year 10 So­cial Dance to­gether. And you walked me home. My dad at the win­dow, ru­in­ing things.

Then there was an awk­ward pause, and we both knew why, and she said, well, there was that one time. In col­lege, wasn’t it?

It was and she knew. As for me, I thought about it the very mo­ment I saw her. We were young, we agreed.

Any­way, she said, you’ve done well. Cou­ple of books, right? And I read your ar­ti­cle on the week­end. What’s it called again? The In­former, I said. Or the rec­tan­gle. That’s right, she said. You make me laugh. Al­ways could.

Ta. You’ve done well too, I see. Funny we should catch up like this though. Funny old world, re­ally. Yep, she replied. Funny old world. Maybe we could have a cof­fee some­time. Bring our other halves.

Sure, sounds good. I might even write about this, I said. She laughed and said OK.

With that, there was noth­ing else for me to do other than pull up my pants, and noth­ing else for her to do other than toss the sur­gi­cal gloves in the bin.

Fair dinkum, that was one weird colonoscopy.

“FUNNY WE SHOULD CATCH UP LIKE THIS THOUGH. FUNNY OLD WORLD, RE­ALLY.”

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