One of my favorite films of all times is Michael J. Fox’s Back to the Future. What a hoot it was to follow Marty McFly as he met his mother, “battled” the bully Biff, and gave Chuck Berry the inspiration for “Johnny B Good”! Like all classic films, Back to the Future resonated with its audience due in no large part to the charisma of its actors – which immediately brings to mind Tim Matheson and John Belushi in Animal House and Belushi and Dan Akroyd in The Blues Brothers. But I digress.
Who among us hasn’t wished at some point that we could go back to our own past, revisit those days when the high school football game was the biggest event on the calendar, and our most pressing concern was whether we would have a date to the big dance? Although driving an ‘08 Hyndai instead of Marty McFly’s DeLorean DMC-12, yesterday I made my own trip “back to the future”.
I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a time when the two boys’ schools in that city were military academies, and the girls’ school that I attended required uniforms and prohibited makeup. In the late 60’s most of us were pretty innocent in all ways that the term “innocent” can be interpreted. Yes, some of us smoked cigarettes, and a few of us actually drank alcohol, but the large majority of us were sheltered and blissfully unaware of life’s vicissitudes.
The last three years of high school I dated “Baylor Boys” – the local slang for the young men who attended The Baylor School for Boys located across the Tennessee River from my own school, and nestled at the foot of Signal Mountain. How well I remember waiting for the final bell to ring, whereupon my girl friends and I would rush to apply makeup and then make the short trip over to the Baylor campus to watch an afternoon wrestling match, catch a tennis match (Roscoe Tanner, Zan Guerry, and Brian Gottfried all Baylor Boys and future professional tennis players were on that team), or cheer for the basketball or football teams on a Friday night. My junior year I was honored to be a Military Sponsor presented at the year end parade, and honored again my senior year to be named a Baylor Favorite. Needless to say, that school, its campus and my memories of those days held a soft spot in my heart. So, yesterday, upon the invitation of Rob Robinson, an old friend who is both a Baylor alum and the current Director of Giving for the school, I journeyed back to that gorgeous campus.
Baylor is set on several hundred acres abutting and high above the Tennessee River. The view from just about any point on the campus reveals exquisite mountain views, and the architecture reminds one of Oxford or perhaps Hogwarts. It is simply one of the prettiest campuses anywhere. And while the old buildings with which I was familiar were still there, so much more had been added, including girls as students. In case you are interested in more details about the school, you can look here: http://www.baylorschool.org/.
I enjoyed looking at all the “new stuff”, but truly the best parts of the day – other than visiting with an old friend – were the “back to the future” moments: walking into the old gym where I saw The Tams play for a commencement dance, where as a senior I cheered my basketball player boyfriend as he decimated the opposition with his gifted play, where as a member of Terpsichord, my school’s dance group, I played the role of Eve in the creation story; standing outside Hunter Hall where so many of the boarding students I knew lived, and where Brian Gottfried was caught with alcohol on his breath and expelled a few days before he graduated while his friends, myself included, lamented of how unfair this was; seeing the old parade field where, wearing a white dress and white gloves, and carrying a bouquet of long stemmed red roses, I was presented as Roscoe Tanner’s military sponsor.
I have written previously of wishing I could have a “do-over” on life. I thought about that yesterday as I looked at all of the young girls and boys on Baylor’s campus. Honestly, I must admit to some jealousy and wishful thinking – so much is ahead for these young people, most of which they won’t even appreciate for years and years to come. But, I also remembered that life has its seasons, and that the one I am presently in has its own rewards. Still and all, I had a wonderful time yesterday going back to the future.