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by Karla K. Sullivan, AARP Bulletin, September 17, 2010
It all started with Facebook. With little effort, a classmate from junior high 43 years ago found me.
"Remember me?" he asked. "I saved a letter you wrote to me when I was sick in 1967. Would you like to see it?"
Of course I wanted to see the letter.
He scanned it and sent it to me. The letter revealed excellent penmanship, which had always been one of my concerns. I also realized my words represented the author well. The colorful traits of thought and emotion that are still an integral part of me were there, way back then.
I also learned that he had had a crush on me. I had no idea.
We found others of that era. Before long we were planning a reunion to celebrate the seventh-grade class of 1967. We met at a local restaurant and the magic moments began.
It didn't matter if you had not seen recent photos of our classmates. We recognized each other by a trademark generous smile or goofy laugh. A single chuckle, giggle or guffaw immediately transported me back in time to the playground or classroom setting I thought had disappeared. We stared at each other for the longest time, triggering memories of the inexplicable bond we had created.
That evening, I thought of my first secret love and wondered if he had been contacted. Sure enough, he walked in the door. The same intense feelings of endearment caused my palms to sweat and my heart to race. If I still knew how to blush, I'm sure that was happening, too.
We realized something that night. If we had once been kind to others or the studious type decades ago, we were the same today. If we had been defined as the "class clown" back then, the label stuck. We exemplified the same qualities, no matter what direction life had taken us. My classmates determined that I was "the writer," and though I have published books and poetry, I still didn't consider myself a real writer.
Since that evening, I've accepted that, in fact, I am.
Karla K. Sullivan is a reader from Downers Grove, Ill.
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