Memory is a funny thing. The way that sounds and smells trigger flashes of images in our mind. The way everything feels better in the past. If you asked me what I did last week I would struggle to tell you, but I can tell stories about single days from 15 years ago.
I remembered one of those days today.
When I was a junior in high school there was a program called The Crossroads. Sessions were held a few times a month for three months. They were held at a cabin outside of town and lasted the length of a school day.
Every student in my graduating class would have an opportunity to go on one of these trips. We were selected at random, 15 students at a time. The student counselor passed out envelopes with permission forms in them to the chosen students. Participation was optional, but the whole thing was so mysterious that most of us wanted to go.
Even then, no one knew what to make of the program. I would ask students that had already gone about what happens there, and they didn’t know what to say.
I still remember my excitement when I finally got my envelope.
And I still remember how inconsequential the whole thing was.
We just hung out. All this mystery and that’s all it was. We introduced ourselves to each other and spent the rest of the day doing nothing.
I remember hanging out on the roof of the cabin with a kid named Josh. Up until this point, me and Josh didn’t like each other. I’m not sure why we spent the afternoon together. Maybe we were assigned to each other.
And then something interesting happened. After Crossroads, the disdain between me and Josh faded away. We didn’t become best friends, but we would talk in class sometimes.
I wonder now if that was the point. Send a group of students that never interact with each other to a remote location and force them to hang out in hopes of strengthening the community.
Maybe I’m giving my school too much credit. Maybe it was a religious thing and I blocked that lecture from my memory. Whatever it was, it left an impression on me that persists to this day.