I was sitting on my patio this morning drinking my coffee and watching the sun come up. Birds were chirping happily with the dawn of new day when I turned my attention to yesterday’s mail. A letter from my high school reunion committee caught my eye and I began to think about the last reunion I attended.
I was prodded into returning to my hometown by my sister. I had never really considered going as I, quite honestly, did not really remember most of the people in my class. It was not that I did not care for them so much as none of them really carried forward in my later adventures in life. They were what I like to call ‘station’ friends. They are the ones that are there at certain points in your life that, once you board life’s train for the next station, they remain behind. That is not to say that you do not remain friends but, rather, that the connection is limited to when, and if, you visit that particular station again. Moving around a lot over my adult life, I find myself with a lot of ‘station’ friends. The internet has made it easier to stay in contact and to keep up with their lives, but they remain at that station for the most part. Some may change locations and move to a station I have yet to visit but, if I do, I know someone there.
Anyway, arriving home a day early, I decided to hit one of the old bars that was still around that a lot of us used to frequent in the day. I was not sure who, if anyone, I would stumble across, but figured a few warm up drinks prior to the weekend activities would not hurt anything.
Upon entering, I immediately heard my name being yelled aloud with a beckoning to come to the far side of the bar. I headed that direction and was shocked to see that it was Tommy calling me over. Tommy is someone I had sort of forgotten about, probably because I just did not want to remember him, but had taught me a lot about myself. Lessons that would shape me for years to come. Tommy was a special needs child in our school and the salt of the earth. I had never met anyone so caring and trusting in my life. I admired how much he enjoyed just the process of living and subtleties of the experience that most of us tend to miss because we are thinking of or rushing off to other things. But that in turn, especially as kids, brought out the ugly in others. Children and, especially, adolescents can be very cruel at times. For some, finding their identity can be difficult or challenging and, at times, I was one who experienced those difficulties. Most of my most shameful moments happened in high school. I did shine on occasion but they were definitely not the prevailing qualities of the period.
I extended my hand and he immediately thrust forward into a hug, a back slap, and an exclamation that I would be drinking free the rest of the night. I protested stating that I was able to pay for my own drinks to which he countered loudly, “Nonsense, you saved my life! Your money is no good tonight!”
That was true actually and was a bit of a long story that he cheerfully related to everyone in the bar. It was tenth grade and we were all in swim class. As we stood along the edge of the pool awaiting the teacher to come out and give us instructions on what we would be doing that day, we were all kind of chuckling and goofing off as we were prone to do at that age.
As we were clowning around, Tommy entered the pool. We were at the deep end of the pool so he could not touch the bottom and, as I found out quickly, he could not swim either. Sadly, as he flailed around, going down and then coming back up, screaming sounds that were unintelligible due to the water he was taking in, most everyone was just laughing at the exhibition that was being put on. We were 15 going on 16 and felt we were invulnerable, why was Tommy any different, right?
Well this went on for what seemed like an eternity, in all actuality it was only about 2 minutes, when I realized Tommy was coming up to the surface more slowly than the time before. No one moved towards the pool to do anything. Probably caused by a mixture of fear of the teacher if we got in without being told to do so, or the expectation the teacher would appear and take control of the situation, or, and sadly, because some were still laughing pretty hard about the display unfolding before them.
I remember a splash, a struggle, and a push next. I had jumped in, grabbed him, wrestled him during his panic, and pushed him out of the pool. It happened so quickly and, as he laid coughing on the side of the pool desperately trying to catch his breath, the teacher came out. He was not happy and wanted to know what happened. Everyone was silent and Tommy, coughing still, explained as best he could that he had lost his balance and fallen into the pool and that I had jumped in and saved him from drowning.
I stood there looking down into my beer while other’s began to express their joy and amazement with his story. I cracked a slight smile, the most I could muster at the time, and just said something like, “Anybody would have done it.” This was quickly followed by, “Nobody else did.”
Two more free beers followed, everyone was pretty jovial, I had shaken just about everyone’s hand in the bar that night when Tommy went over to the jukebox, which amazingly was the same one that was there 20 years prior and still worked, and I followed him.
In my lowest possible voice, I looked at him and said, “Look, there is something I need to tell you about that day.” He leaned in and got closer to my ear and just said, “I know you pushed me in.” There was no hint of resentment or anger or disappointment in his voice as he pulled his head back. Rather the statement, “You did not let me drown. We were kids and you did the right thing in the end.” I was amazed. Here was someone that I was cruel to up to that moment in high school who had made the best of an otherwise bad situation. I was the only one to enter the water to try and stop something that I had set in motion.
He continued and said that the remaining of high school were the best years of his childhood as he had me as a friend. It was true, that event had changed me, even then. I recognized that what had transpired was, though not intended to be cruel, unnecessary and dangerous. Not only had I endangered his life but I had bullied someone who was different from me merely because of that difference. Twenty years after an event that changed my outlook on adolescence, he once again changed my outlook again. He saw that moment as a turning point in his life. He took the good that came out of it rather than avenging the action that caused it. Special needs? No, just special.
Since that day, I have tried to be kind to everyone regardless of their differences, be it race, religion, or physical limitations. We are all in this life together and the feeling you get when you can make another smile outweighs the feeling that you get when you can make yourself smile at their expense. Doing the right thing is not that hard, you just have to think prior to acting. And, at the end of the day, that smile from being kind will remain.
What a start to a beautiful day. The sun still shining and the computer calling my name, I decided to log in and look for something to make my smile bigger still. It was then that I stumbled upon the “Whimberly” build located on the sim of the same name. Done up as a sim in the full bloom of spring, it was a welcome exploration to top off that memory. There is nothing thoughtless about this build though. Everything is placed with attention to the overall aesthetic appearance. Reading the land description, “Come and explore the spring themed location called “Whimberly”. Enjoy your stay, take lots of pictures, meet friends and above all have fun!”, I realized I had done everything on the list except meet friends. I do that quite a bit already and will be taking one or two along next time to enjoy this sim. And, now, I hope you will join me in enjoying my memories of the sim below through my pictures. I hope your day is wonderful and you can find a way to put a big smile on your face whatever challenges you may face. Until next time, I present to you…..”Whimberly!”
I hope you enjoy the pictures and you will find the SLURL at the bottom of this post.
To visit this location in Second Life, please click here: Whimberly