I recently posted a bunch of old photos on Facebook. These pictures were from when I was at Andress High School out in the west Texas town of El Paso. I left El Paso the summer after my sophomore year after my parents divorced. At the time I was excited about the move, happy even. In hindsight, I realize how hard a move during high school really was.
I’m really grateful that I grew up in El Paso. Wait, let me qualify that statement. I’m really grateful that I grew up in El Paso WHEN I did. The city, both a border town and the home of a large military base, provided me with, what I have come to realize, a very unique and diverse group of friends. I’ve heard things are just not the same down there now. Sadly, from what I understand, gangs are much more prevalent now, making it more difficult to cross racial lines in the name of friendship.
As grateful as I am for growing up there, I’m equally grateful that I don’t live there now. I’m sure the economy is worse now than it was when I was there, which is hard to imagine given that there were waiting lists for jobs at Burger King. No joke. Not a good prospect for a 16 year old.
So, I posted these pictures on Facebook, which has done a great job bringing those of us that were friends way back then a little closer today. Those walks down memory lane have helped remind us of each other’s senses of humor, moments of hilarity, and some really good times. Through the process of scanning and posting, I realized how my memory is already failing me. I was having a hard time remembering some people’s names, first and/or last. One person whose last name I couldn’t remember was Doug. Doug was a great guy, a real sweetheart, whose presence in our group of friends was most certainly a good thing. In fact, just now, I am remembering being in his little, and I mean teeny weeny, convertible. The back seat was so small that there were two of us sitting on the back of the car with our feet in the back seat, as he drove. Yeah, that was fun. Or at least it was until we got pulled over by an undercover cop. In a station wagon. Yeah. Great times. Great memories.
I saw through a friend of a friend on Facebook, a Doug that went to Andress. I didn’t recognize the picture, but hell, I know I don’t look the same as I did ahem, TWENTY years ago (THANK THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER for small favors!). I figured I’d see if it was him, and he accepted my friend request. Through emailing back and forth, we discovered that he was in fact not the Doug I was looking for. Then my way-back-friend Jessica told me his last name. Then. Then she told me the news. Doug had died in a motorcycle accident in Guam in 1998.
It is truly hard to describe how this made me feel. It is so tragic. I hadn’t kept in touch with him after I moved, but he was someone who had left a positive mark on my memories. He was one of the good guys, and I was sad to hear of such an early departure from this place.
The day I left El Paso, my mom and I stopped at a gas station to fill up before the big trip north. It was there that I ran into Doug and Sam. They were the last friends I saw before our big move. For once I am happy that my mom had her camera surgically attached to her wrist, for I have a visual reminder of this moment in time.
Sam, Me, Doug