A funny thing happened this weekend.
I went back to the the town of my alma mater where my high school class, which graduated 30 years ago, was serving as the "grand marshals" for the local festival parade.
Many of the folks I had not seen for many, many years; some I had not seen in the entire 30 years since I left my parent's home.
The funny thing was that somewhere in my mind I was expecting all of these people to look exactly the way they did 30 years ago; in my mind's eye they had not changed a bit. And funnier still-- most of them did look much like I remembered. I could still see traces of their adolescent selves in each one of them, or their voices, or their mannerisms.
When you come from a small community and a small school there is something that happens that is impossible to replicate in a larger school atmosphere. While you may not have known everyone of your classmates intimately, you DID know everyone's name in our school. And it is very likely that you knew some of the details of their lives as well. This was an extended family.
Like it or not.
There were some family members that you may have felt closer to than others or that you avoided getting into certain conversations with or that you never really had too much in common with, but the many years spent together makes them family just the same.
That was the overwhelming sense I had in talking to these folks. All social barriers were down. There are no cliques to wade through. Just the feeling of family, of "I know these people." The feeling of wanting these people to all be just fine and never have any suffering in their lives.
While I'm close to many folks by choice now as I'm plowing down my forties, there is a difference when you can look at a childhood friend or classmate and you can immediately see them as the five year old, or the awkward 12 year old or the gorgeous 16 year old they were.
That, my friends, is family.
And that is also when you feel the breeze from time flying by you.