Thursday, May 30, 2013

High School Graduation: Thirty Years of Change

On this day, in 1983, I graduated from Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tennessee.  At least, I think it was this day.  I kept a journal then, but I didn't write about graduation on the actual day that it happened.  I wrote a few days later.

Here is a quote from 18 year old Kristin, as written in her journal: "I just know I will miss everyone and that I will probably never see any of these people again." 

I assumed I would keep in touch with a few people, which I did.  I assumed I would lose touch with almost everyone, which I did.  I did not foresee anything like Facebook or Google that would let us all find each other again.

I went to a fairly small high school, by South Florida standards, just several hundred students.  Our high schools down here are the populations of small cities, several thousand students.  And we wonder why they don't learn as much as we wish they would.  But that's a subject for a different day.

So much has changed since 1983.  I went back to my high school in 1992, when I was in Knoxville for the College English Association conference.  I checked in at the office, as the sign told me to do, but I could have wandered the halls for hours before anyone asked what I was up to.  I asked the secretary if I could take a quick walk through the building, and she said, "Sure."  I asked if I needed a hall pass, and she looked at me like I had lost my mind.  That was one of my first hints that I no longer looked like a high school kid.

And that was that.  No one asked further questions.  No one wondered why I was there.  No metal detectors, no background checks.  And so, I roamed the halls. 

I noticed that the huge space that had been the home-ec classroom had been changed into a room with personal computers.  If we could travel back in time to 1992, we'd probably be amazed at how much space those computers consumed.

Now, we can carry much more powerful computers in our pockets.  That technological advance is in the process of changing the world:  I predict that no other development will do more to eliminate poverty in developing nations, except perhaps, cheaper sources of water and power.  The beauty of these small computers, in the shape of a phone, is that they could be easily recharged, so even if the power supply is unstable or absent, one could still recharge the device with a charger that relies on a hand crank or solar power.

It's a development I couldn't have even imagined, even with all my youthful sci-fi reading, in the year of my graduation from high school.

These days at the Berkey-Abbott household, we're anxiously watching interest rates as we try to buy a new house before house prices rise beyond our means, as interest rates start to float up.

Last night, I tried to regain some perspective.  I thought back to our first house purchase in 1993, when we got interest rates of 7%; I declared, "We'll likely never get interest rates cheaper than this!" 

My spouse and I both remember the Carter years, when rates approached 20%.  This morning, I looked up home mortgage interest rates in 1983:  just under 14%.  If 18 year old Kristin could get her mind around the fact that she would buy a house in the future, she'd marvel at the fact that I will get an interest rate of somewhere between 3.4% and 5% (please, please let it be closer to 3.4%!).

I wish we felt fretful about the fact that so much of the house will need to be packed into boxes before too long.  I'd know what to do with that nervous energy.  I can't do much to control the Fed, the interest rates, the stock market, windstorm insurance rates, global sea level rise, all the things which wake me up in the middle of the night as I wake up worrying about a new property and all of the implications.
Yesterday, I returned to one of the ancient practices which has always soothed me.  No, not prayer, not meditation, not yoga.  No, not alcohol, not exercise, not writing.  Yesterday, it poured rain all morning, a morning when I happened to be home.  I thought about the communal meal on Friday evening, the lemon coconut cake I planned to make, the lemons in my fridge to be turned into lemon curd, the extra lemon curd I'll have, the scones that would be so tasty with that lemon curd.  And I got to work, baking and zesting lemons and enjoying yummy smells and tastes.

This morning, it was a return to another ancient practice:  poetry.  I wrote a poem this morning, just as I would have been likely to do in 1983.

If we travelled back to 1983, we'd likely arrive on a day when I was cooking.  And I'm hopeful that if we arrived in 2033, I'd still be cooking.  And hopefully, it would be a day when poetry would not be far behind.

1 comment:

Swann's Marina said...

We hope to see you at the high school reunion, August 3, 2013. I will send you information. I am excited about posting your blog. Everything is so true.

Your friend, Polly Fuqua