Sunday, April 09, 2006

Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'

Note: I've been meaning to change the title of this little 'ol blog for some time to more accurately reflect what this is about. But it's still me. On to the show ....

I got an email from a friend I haven't talked to since high school. We were kinda-sorta good friends in elementary school and jr. high. But I sensed a cooling-off and a growing resentment from her in high school.

Anyway. She updated me on her life: A house in a Southern California desert town. A job as an accountant for a medical center. Two teenage kids (she had her first at age 19). A husband who works as an equipment operator for Cal Trans. All very "Roseanne."

I sent her a brief account of mine. And I haven't heard from her since.

But I've buried the lede. This post is not about her. It's about someone else I went to high school with. After my old friend emailed me, I Google'd a few random high school classmates out of curiousity.

I discovered that one, a good-looking kid in my honors classes who wasn't just brainy, but also athletic, popular and nice, has finished a handful of marathons, the most recent in January 2005. He has impressive times: From 2:37 to 3:13.
He was a scholar-athlete in college, so I wasn't surprised.

Then I saw what division he raced in: Wheelchair.

My heart sank. I remember him as a golden boy with an easy smile and a long stride. Now, he's paralyzed from the waist down.

I emailed another high school friend and found out that our former classmate had been in a car accident years ago, and some people had even thought he'd died.

I found a photo of him in his wheelchair. It was taken in 2001, when he was inducted into his college's athletics hall of fame. His hair was no longer blond, but brown. He wore glasses. He smiled faintly. A wheelchair framed his lean body.

But he still looked like an athlete. Of course, he is. Anyone who can fly through 26.2 miles in a hand-cranked wheelchair - using just one hand, I kid you not - is a major stud.

7 comments:

  1. Have you seen the documentary "Murder Ball"? If not I recommend renting it. It will change how you feel about your friend. It isn't that people who end up in wheelchairs don't wish they weren't there - it's that they move on and just live a different life. Kudos to your former classmate for finding his post-accident athletic groove.

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  2. 21st: I've heard of "Murder Ball." Thanks for the reminder - I'd love to see it. Thinking of my friend further, I'm sure he's moved on. He graduated from law school a couple of years ago and passed the bar. He's a smart guy and I'm sure he's doing great things ....

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  3. "Buried the lede" ha! I used to do that all the time, or so my favorite editor used to tell me:)

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  4. what does lede mean? I couldn't find it at dictionary.com

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  5. The lede is the first paragraph of a news story that describes the who, what, where, when, why and how. Lede is pronounced like the word "lead" but not spelled that way to prevent confusion with lead, the metal that was used extensively in the newspaper business in hot-type days, and a term that refers to the spacing of lines in a printed text.

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  6. That's a pretty inspiring story, Bex. He doesn't sound like he's sit-down-and-take-it kind of guy. Very cool.

    Love the new name for the blog too. :)

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  7. oh i see i'm two posts behind. F'n bloglines...

    awesome story about your friend. awesome photo. those guys are intense. very inspiring.

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