During the Labor Day weekend, I went home for my 30th high school reunion.
I’m from Clovis New Mexico, just west of the mid-Texas border. In 1979, I was the class president and captain of the debate team. It had been a long journey from the 8th grade, when I was the new kid at Yucca and didn’t know if I’d ever fit in. It was the year of the Wildcat (our mascot) with state championships in football, basketball and marching band. Clovis pride was strong, and gave many of us the confidence to go out into the world and compete. Others that remained, fed local pride and applied their talents to cultivate a richer Clovis.
I’m so glad that I went home this year for the reunion, and I’m especially glad at what the trip did for my perspective. By going home, I was able to reconnect with my context — the surrounding environment of aesthetics, influences and cultural flavors that come from growing up in a rural southwestern town. I’ve lived in big cities (Dallas and LA) for most of the last thirty odd years, so it’s pretty easy to lose touch with my home town.
On Friday night, the class of 1979 met at the high school for a tailgate party and football game. We were playing one of the Albuquerque teams, which was always a tough win. We congregated in a set of bleachers set up for us behind the south goal. People reconnected, recollected and reveled in what we had shared together back in the late 70’s. Once we all got over our haven’t-seen-you-in-decades jitters, we got along like it was still back in the day. I thank Facebook for greasing the wheels as over half of the attendees were on Facebook or heard about it through Facebook.
On Saturday afternoon, there was a tour of Clovis for the out-of-towners. Jacqueline and I joined the tour at the Buddy Holly (Norman and Vi Petty) museum by city hall. I had a chance to have some one on one time with one of my high school BFFs, my debate partner David Begin. He and I won the state championship in 1979, and likely think of it as a crowning competitive achievement in our lives.
On Saturday night, there was a dinner and a dance. A few weeks prior to the reunion, one of the organizers asked me to speak after dinner. I put a great deal of thought into my short talk, and I was truly nervous prior to the talk. I focused my remarks on how much Clovis influenced our values and personalities. Even if you aren’t from Clovis, there’s a message in this talk for you: Don’t forget where you come from. Draw upon your pride like a reservoir. Teach your kids how to possess local pride. That’s what I got out of the trip: Pride works, so feed it.
I recorded this on my handy-dandy Zoom D4. I hope you take a few minutes to listen to it.