Thursday, January 28, 2010

40th high school reunion - or maybe not

I am still not decided about attending an upcoming 40th Brits High School reunion in South Africa, in early March. I have done such a dreadfully poor job of keeping in touch with my old schoolmates that they are probably not really keen to see me after 40 years. Of course, if I had remained in South Africa my life would have been different. For one thing, I would have remained a fan of cricket, and in my mind baseball would have remained an odd mostly American sport, rather than the absorbing contest between batter and pitcher which I have grown to know and admire. Love? No. Sorry baseball, that is still reserved for cricket. First and enduring love, you know... Even after decades of being cut off from the world of cricket, I can still get completely swept away by the amazing complexity, the finesse and the sheer excitement of this most elegant of team sports. Naturally, had I not immigrated to the USA with Kathleen and the boys 20 years ago my life would have been different in a hundred other ways. To at least a few people in my 1970 high school graduating class I would not now be a complete stranger.

I love it here in Houston and in the USA but as the years go by, the realization sets in that I will never be able to spend much time with old friends, and of course my two brothers and sister. And vice versa. My life here goes by day after day and so does theirs, 8,000 miles away. A text message or even the occasional ‘phone call is no substitute for looking someone in the eye, gripping their hands and being happy when it turns out that they are ok. Yes I do miss the chance to just hang around with them, maybe watching some cricket on the TV, or cooking something nice. And then of course there is my mother - still very fit and active but growing older. How much – or how little – time do we have left together?

There is nothing I can do now to reverse the course of the last 20 years – they are gone forever. Every time I do find myself in South Africa, I am rushed off my feet trying to fit in a dozen different places I have to see and experience first-hand. It is what I do. Yet I do regret not being able to spend more time with my family. They are the only ones you have and you have to nurture those relationships. I’m batting under .200 on this – if you know baseball you’ll know that won’t get you into the hall of fame. In fact it will get you relegated to the minor leagues. I’ve got to do better.

So I guess I should attend the reunion, spend some time with the family and go to a cricket match. It will be palliative at best but better than a kick in the head, as my old boss Martin Pieterse used to say. Like so many other people in my previous life, I wonder what happened to him. This reunion thing is getting me into a very maudlin state of mind.

The prospect of yet another 16-hr flight to Jo’burg fills me with apprehension especially now that further security ‘enhancements’ are in place. I do not mind having pictures taken which would show ‘everything’ – under our clothes we’re all naked so what the hell. Go on and take as many enhanced x-rays as you want. Just give me some warning so I can pull in my stomach. Just don’t ask me to take my stupid shoes off again!

Running update:

Kathleen and I have been pretty consistent on the running front since we got back from Botswana just eight days before Christmas last year. I am doing about 25 to 30 miles per week and so is Kath; she’s even thinking about running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April. We’ve started back with track workouts at Reagan High School on Thursday nights (followed by a vegan BBQ sandwich at Field of Greens) and from next week we’ll also resume running hills on Tuesday nights with the Striders. This Saturday is our first 5-K race in quite a while – the Texas Med 5K. We’ll keep you posted.

I almost forgot - we ran the Chevron Houston half marathon on January 17. It was a near perfect day - Kathleen came in under 2 hrs which she was thrilled with and I ran an unofficial 1:50 something. More than 10 minutes off my personal best but I'm happy with it, considering the much interrupted training program. This year is going to be fun! I might even challenge myself to go for a 5K pr in the fall.


Andra said...

You have a big decision to make pretty quick! I sense you are torn! I'll be curious to know whether you go t the reunion!

Great work on the half marathon on the 17th! I would say that is very good coming just after a very busy time that didn't allow for a proper training program! You are a natural!

Amy said...

Bert, I know where you are coming from - I've been here in Belgium for 20 years and I think at the beginning it is hard to imagine what the long term consequences are of living so far from home base for so long. Everyone gets older and then we realize our time here is finite... anyway, I bet you'd be surprised how much old classmates would enjoy seeing you afer all those years, and if the trip includes an opportunity to see your family... I was so glad I made the effort to go to my cousin's wedding in California last November, it was amazing to have the chance to see uncles, aunts and cousins I hadn't seen in so long plus the great time travelling with my parents - it felt like a once in a lifetime event to me! Good luck on making your decision, I know the thought of the long trip is a real downer.

Melissa said...

Hi Bert! Thanks for your comment. Congrats on qualifying for Bawston!! Life goes by so fast. It's hard to "fit it all in" but we try our best. As long as they know we love them.