Friday, February 25, 2005

Is school really this bad?

Last week as I was pulling my car into the parking lot of my office building, I heard breaking news on the radio. There was an unconfirmed report of an explosion and fire at a west suburban high school.

My niece's high school.

I didn't panic. I waited for a few minutes to see if there was more to report. Then I went into the office and called my sister. The line was busy. I figured that if the school was evacuated my niece would call her mother first (I was right, that's why the her phone was busy). Within an hour the story was on the web and I found out there were no injuries.

It ended up that an unhappy student, who had begged his parents weeks before for permission to drop out, had ignited water bottles filled with gasoline and surrounded by newspaper in is locker. Well, he got his wish...he's out of school now. And facing 10 years in prison.

This whole thing baffled me for days. I know high school is difficult, both academically and was when I was there. But what could be so bad that would drive a person to such action? We don't know the specific's of this young man's life. The story dropped from the news after two days - no injuries, no blood, no story.

And I have to admit it dropped from my mind too. Until I read this column. And this is a middle school!

Is it true? Are most adults clueless about this? Please, I am begging for comments here. I really want to know what is going on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

From friends to loves to loving friends - Part III

Read Part I
Read Part II

So here we are, a generation later. Some in our circle of friends have hit the big 5-0, and the rest of us are heading there fast. We watch in amazement as our children form friendships in much the same way we did, and we see into the future.

Because guess what, kids? In twenty years or so you will find yourselves where we are today. You will be immersed in your own lives, working, paying bills, watching your children grow into adults. And once in a great while you will have the opportunity to get together with your friends from these days.

The bonds of friendship you form now will reappear every time you are together, no matter how rare that is. It will be like nothing has changed - mostly because you keep telling the same old stories (and are in denial about how you are aging). Your kids will be embarassed by your behavior during these gatherings, never realizing that they too will have their turn at such middle-aged reunions.

And what about those Girls from Pittsburgh? Two of them ended up in my own family (or I should say, I ended up in theirs). When I married Daniel, CL became my sister-in-law, and KK became my cousin-in-law! Both are the dearest of friends, especially CL who helped me through the roughest year of my life, which was also one of her roughest.

And the third one - KP - married my ex-boyfiend (the guy of the letters). Twenty years later, she (along with my ex) took a day off of work and drove hundreds of miles to sit all day with me beside my husband's casket.

We were in love with those Guys from Detroit for a reason. They were fine boys. Today they are fine men who have built strong families with wonderful women who just happened to not be us. Because we didn't let pettiness or jealously ruin our relationships when their hearts went in another direction, we are still friends today.

And we all still love each other.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

From friends to loves to loving friends - Part II

Read Part I

Before I continue the story of the Boys from Detroit meet the Girls from Pittsburgh, I want to something clear...this story is written from my perspective only. I am speaking only for myself, even when I use an occasional "we" instead of "I".

At that time, the thing we looked foward to most was the Youth Convocation...a four or five-day-long gathering sponsored by the church and held at a college. Not only were we away from home, "living" with our friends instead of our parents...but we would be with those guys we liked/loved so much.

Every other year, this gathering was national, with kids from all over the country. But the first such gathering I attended was the off-year, "diocesan" or regional version. And our diocese contained Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee (and other areas in the Midwest). So we pretty much had the Guys from Detroit to ourselves, if you don't count the stupid cheerleaders having their "camps" at the same college.

So the next year when the convocation was national and held in Princeton, New Jersey, the character of our friendship was changing but we didn't know it. Connections were made that week that we were not aware of until later. We were out of high school, so really the landscape of our entire lives was changing. And frankly, I didn't like it.

With most of the group in college and the rest working, we had little time to spend together. It seemed like the bond of our group was weakening. Other interests captured us all, and the idea that any of the Girls from Chicago ending up with a Guy from Detroit seemed less and less likely.

Within a few years, three of the Guys from Detroit married Girls from Pittsburgh. Two of the Guys married girls from Buffalo, and a couple of the Guys ended up marrying girls they met in college. In the end, the only Chicago-Detroit relationship to lead to marriage was mine. And that didn't happen until 15 years after Princeton.

When I started writing this story a month ago, I had a point which I am struggling to remember. I think it was that friendships change over time, because we as individuals change. But certain friendships stay with you in a special way. And some people who you barely know (and won't give a chance to) now may end up being some of your best friends later.

(to be continued)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Happy Birthday, Aunt G!

My loving Aunt G hits a big milestone today. She's in pretty good health physically, but is facing several other challenges in her life. She has a strong faith and projects a positive attitude no matter what she is going through. She is my role model for an aunt, a wife, a mother, a woman, and a friend.

If I could, I would shield her from every bad thing. But none of us can do that for anyone.

So on your birthday, all I can offer is a simple prayer that God will grant you continued good health and some moments of precious peace.

I love you very much.