Sunday, July 10, 2022
Breakfast at Keyes 50 Years Later
A few months ago I got a friend request on Facebook from a name I didn’t recognize. I of course deleted the request and went about looking at all the posts on Facebook. A little bit later I got a message from this person once again requesting that I friend them. This time she sent a message with her full name, maiden and married. It was a friend that I had gone to freshman year at high school with, 50 years ago! Imagine my surprise after half of a century actually hearing from someone from so long ago. Our story goes back to one year we spent together, 1972.
When I was ready to leave grade school and enter high school my parents told me I could pick any high school I wanted to go to…just as long as it was a Catholic High School. So not doing much research at all I decided I didn’t want to go where my brothers had gone. They had too many stories of the hard discipline that followed them where they were at. Of course, looking back now, I’m thinking my brothers maybe exaggerated a bit on the disciplinary measures they endured. But nevertheless, I wanted to go somewhere different.
I chose an all girls Catholic school, Our Lady of Peace. It was a city bus trip a few miles away. It was operated by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary order of nuns. They were the “cool” nuns. Most of them were no longer in the nun habits and wore regular people clothes for the most part. They were well educated and were awesome at their profession.
So Fall came and I hopped the city bus and headed to my Freshman Year of high school and new beginnings. And that is where I met Sandy. I’m still not sure how we came to be friends being we were night and day opposites on the outside. I was into sports and athletics and tomboy stuff. And she was, how do I say this kindly…kind of wimpy and girly; the last one picked for intramural softball. She was very happy to just sit on the bench and cheer her team on. She was the least likely person to get in trouble and I was the first one the nuns looked at when something was awry. Not that I was a troublemaker, but I guess I just had the look of guilt on my face whenever the nuns came around.
Our Lady of Peace, or OLP, as it was fondly called, was one of many Catholic High Schools in the Twin Cities. Up until about that time the schools were filled, but as time went on, tuition prices went up and there were less kids enrolling, some of the schools had come on hard times and financially weren't making it.
One day, before Christmas vacation,there was an all school general assembly and the principal, Sister Michelene (Big Mike as she was fondly referred to) announced that OLP would be closing forever at the end of the school year. At that moment, there stood hundreds of high school girls in silence trying to grasp what was being said and what their future would hold. Moments later you could hear crying, low mumbling and then some all out sobbing. It was a day I will always remember as being life-changing, not knowing what the next 3 years would bring.
During that year, my friend Sandy and I became really good friends in spite of us being polar opposites from the viewpoint of the rest of the world. We would meet up during free time at school, and take the bus to each other’s houses. To be honest, 50 years ago, I don’t remember what the heck we even did. But I know for a fact it wasn’t anything bad…because Sandy was just that good and kind of kept me out of trouble often times. She was kind of like that little Angel sitting on your right shoulder whispering to be good while on the left shoulder would sit the little devil trying to get you do stuff not as angelic and just don’t get caught.
High school ended that Spring with the two of us being enrolled in different schools miles and miles away from one another. Never really saying goodbye and figuring we’d still see each other we just drifted into our new surroundings and friends and life went on for each of us.
Fast forward to this past week and my friend Sandy and I found time to get together for the first time in 50 years. After a few texts and dates we narrowed it down to breakfast at Keyes restaurant which was halfway between our houses.
On the drive down to the Cities my thoughts wandered to what awaited me that morning when we would meet. After all, it had been half a century since we last saw each other or really had heard from each other. Would we just chit chat uncomfortably and rattle off to each other our past 5 decades of what we have done in life? I have to admit as I got closer I wondered how this meeting was going to pan out. I mean how can you, after 50 years, possibly reconnect on more than a superficial level?
I pulled into the parking lot of Keyes and got out of the Jeep to find an older version of the friend I had remembered from my high school days. There stood Sandy still with the same bright smile and bubbly attitude from years gone by, coming across the parking lot towards me.
After some hearty hugs and a few comments of “wow I can’t believe we finally got together” we went in and got a booth tucked away in a corner of a very busy restaurant.
We sat and talked that morning for over 3 hours. We talked about our families, about the different twists and turns we each had taken in life and where our lives had led us the past 50 years. Conversation came easy and we realized how much our lives had run parallel to each other’s all these years only to intersect again the other morning. It truly was being heart to heart with a good friend, we laughed plenty and teared up a few times over where life had taken us through the years.
We left each other that morning smiling and laughing as we remembered the days when we were young and made so many scratch their heads wondering about how the two of us could possibly be friends being such complete opposites. I guess the only conclusion we came to was…on the inside, where it really counts, we are kindred spirits just trucking through life with many of the same goals and values we both hold close to our hearts. That morning we both got to experience that part of life we all so desperately need to make it in this world…life, family and friends…people who truly know us. Here’s to those times happening more often than once every 50 years!