Sliding Back Into The Future


Hey, you know what? I know this is a big week in Christianville, but what say we take a little detour? Just for today, I swear. Back to moralizing tomorrow.

I have a little story.

Really little. But I’ll be brief.

I had a teacher in high school named Mrs. Thoreen. She was an English teacher, so already in line to be a favorite. And she loved me. I had her my sophomore year, which was my break-out year when I got the lead role in the school play and then in the next one and then got elected as class president and all the girls were swarming. It was a pretty damn good year for a 15-year-old.

By the end of the year, as I recall, I was even getting kind of cocky. That was the spring that I did the Dick Van Dyke show. Things were happening.

That really doesn’t matter much. Mrs. Thoreen came to every show I was in, though, including the Van Dyke one. She was a big fan. And she introduced me to a lot of Shakespeare, for which I’m still grateful. She could be a little ditzy but mostly was a wonderful teacher.

At one point that spring, she was taking a photography class. Running into me out in the commons, she asked me to pose so she could take a photo (she was taking them of the place she worked for a class assignment; it wasn’t creepy). So I posed.

I was standing next to a snack booth that some of us got to work in after school if we kept our grades up or something. Somewhere in the vicinity was my friend Diane; we did plays together. All I remember of Diane was than she was friendly and talented, but also kind of proper. She was fun but she had boundaries of tasteful behavior. Even at 15, I respected that.

Didn’t keep me from being wildly inappropriate (says 2019) by putting my arm around her shoulder and having her pose with me. She probably would have preferred to stay out of the photo, but she was a good sport.

That sort of grabby behavior is what makes me think I was already feeling cocky. That continued for about a year. Things eventually settled down, but I was probably insufferable to certain people.

At some point, Mrs. Thoreen gave me the picture, in the form of a slide. What do you do with a single slide? I have no idea. I guess I just held it up to the light, noticed Diane’s good-natured but less than enthusiastic expression, noticed that I was holding an envelope, noticed that my hair looked awesome...

Now that I think of it, maybe that envelope was special. Maybe it was a special day and Mrs. Thoreen was commemorating it with a photo for her class...actually, no. Nothing major happens when you’re a sophomore and I was a sophomore, I remember distinctly.

So, I tossed that slide somewhere. Probably the only slide I have. It wasn’t a picture that meant anything to me. I remember thinking that my teacher maybe wasn’t cut out for photography.

But slides are small and they know all of the hiding places. I ran across it a few years ago, briefly.

I ran across it about an hour ago, as I write this.

And just to see what would happen, I scanned it. Just scanned it out of curiosity, and after some minor manipulation I had a sort of small but recognizable photo. It was terribly pixilated and blurry but I recognize the people and the place.


I swear. I swear to God, to anything. If you had asked me in the past 10 years or so to name one person I got reacquainted with a little on Facebook, a high school friend, no real communication but some awareness of each other’s lives, one person who surprised me by turning out to be just a superior human being whom I admire from afar, don’t interact with but watch and enjoy and just like...if you’d asked me, at any time, I would have said Diane.

I don’t know what if anything that means. Just mentioning it.


Anyway, it surprised me for several reasons. One was that I recognized the faces, as blurry as they were (and it could be someone other than Diane, but I’m pretty sure and she reads this blog, so she’ll let me know). The other was just the surprise at how this random moment, 45 years ago, has echoes here in 2019. I’m not kidding. Many days, I’ll show Julie one of Diane’s beautiful posts with her collection of beautiful grandchildren. I dunno. I just really like this woman and her attitude toward everything, at least as far as I can tell.

And I hope she forgives me for being handsy all those years ago, and knows that I’ve matured a little, and knows that I have this picture now, as primitive as it is. And it makes me happy.

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