To All the Athletes I’ve Sat Next to in Class Before

tatb.0Sometimes, people come into our lives for just a moment, but in a short period of time they change us in ways we only see after they have gone.  

They are people we sit next to in class for an entire semester, without ever exchanging more than five words at a time. But they are there to remind us that C’s get degrees after we get our first exams back. They tell us what page we’re on when we zone out and don’t know where the professor is reading. When we forget to bring a pen and ask to borrow one, they say no, sorry, this is my only one, and we know they’re lying, but it’s okay, because if the situation were reversed we would lie to them, too.

I’ve been feeling even more sentimental than usual lately (probably because of the eclipse), and have found myself thinking about all the neighbors I’ve turned and talked to over the years. What are they up to? Do they ever think about me? Did they grow out their bangs? I hope they did.

I decided to track down some of the people I had class with freshman year, back when I was a good little liberal arts student who took one course from each of the four divisions and was exposed to students from all walks of Gambier life instead of the same 20 drama majors I speak to on a daily basis.

Full disclosure, I’d forgotten most of these people’s names, and had to look through the members of old class Google Groups. (Side note: cybersecurity in the kenyon.edu network is about as fortified as the skin of a potato.)

Fuller disclosure, most of the people I reached out to did not respond to me. Which is fair. I’m not as exciting a reporter as whoever those dudes over at BuzzFeed are right now. But I did get one guy, a junior named Aidan with whom I had a history class in fall 2017.

Aidan is on the swim team, which partly explains why I haven’t seen him since that class ended. He’s a biochemistry major, which explains another part. I asked if he remembered me, and he admitted that he didn’t until he saw a photo. Thank you for your honesty, Aidan!

As glad as I was to hear from Aidan, it’s hard to say whether I ever really knew him at all. But I believe every classmate comes into our lives for a reason. We may forget their name, or maybe we never learned it, but we will always remember them, and the polite disregard they showed us when we needed it the most.

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