I was looking for some old documents to photocopy last night, when I discovered my old middle school yearbooks. I scanned some of the pictures from the yearbooks and uploaded the images to my Facebook photo albums. And then, for a while, I reflected on friendship.
Here is one of the images from my 8th grade yearbook. In it I'm in the upper left, holding the French Horn (which I still have). There are a couple students in this photograph who had classes with me all the way from kindergarten through eighth grade, but I moved away from Indianapolis in 1982 and lost contact with most of these people in the 1990s. Now, through the Internet, I've reconnected with several of the old friends in this photograph, including Amy Wharton (Amy Shirk, front row far left), Andy Hamaker (front row on the right), Rob Deppert (front row on the right holding the trumpet), Angela Brown (Angela McCormack, behind Andy Hamaker and Rob Deppert), and John Dishinger (in the third row, on the left, wearing tinted glasses).
I wonder if, thanks to the Internet, my own sons will keep up continuously with their childhood friends all through their lives without the 20-year-gap I've had. That could be a good thing. Keeping in touch, even at a distance, makes it easier to occasionally get together for more supportive or fun activities. I find that what I liked (or even loved) about these old friends when we were children and teenagers still is present in who they are now. Rob Deppert and I are still passionate about politics, usually fairly leftist; Andy Hamaker is still involved in music, etc.
This particular photograph is one of the first ones taken of me without glasses after I started wearing glasses in 1976. I decided to switch to contact lenses partly because I preferred how I looked without glasses, as in this photograph. (There were also issues with active sports, playing in the snow or rain, etc.). These days I wear contacts and glasses almost equally. I have had some trouble with the contact lenses while commuting to work on my bike, so I'm more likely to wear glasses while riding.
The second photograph here shows me with my friends Dave Sutcliffe and Dave Wicker at the Johnston Center Renewal in Redlands California, during this past February President's Day weekend. Dave Wicker and I were roommates in our freshmen year (1986-87) at the Johnston Center. That year there were several Erics and Daves living in Bekins Hall.
The third photograph is a recent one of me with some friends. In this case I'm with a few of my graduate students, although Michael Kim had just finished presenting his master's thesis, so he was celebrating becoming a UIS alumni at this particular outing. Amy, the young woman on the left, is finishing up her master's degree with a focus on cross-cultural communication through the arts, with a special emphasis on documentary film and photography. She teaches at Robert Morris College. The woman next to her in the white shirt is Stephanie, and her master's degree focus is in environmental stewardship, with a focus on writing about environmental issues for Christian audiences. Michael Kim is the Korean-American doctor (he is a surgeon) next to me. His master's degree had a focus in surgical education. I'm the guy on the far right.