back to st. gabriel’s

It’s often occurred to me that this was quite a common experience, one which so very many people have gone through, but I always remember it as having been so very offbeat.    When I was a kid, up until around my twelfth birthday, I lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, in New York.    On September 11,1971, my parents, younger sister and I moved to Lindenhurst, in Suffolk County, on Long Island.    One of the sad things about that move was that for several decades afterward I never got a chance, after a few visits in the very early days, to get back in touch with my old friends, including my teachers and classmates from St. Gabriel’s.    Sometime around the beginning of the twenty first century, I got the idea to track down some old friends on .     I found some friends from Jackson Heights, Jo Anne, Ruthie  and Frankie from 92nd Street.   When I sent each of them an e mail, I got a friendly greeting and an explanation of everyone’s circumstances.     Eventually we all made plans to go to a big reunion at St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst in February of 2001.    When my parents and I arrived at St. Gabriel’s I was confronted with quite a jolt from my far away past.    Suddenly I was right there in  a place I hadn’t been part of since I was a kid, in  the company of  all my old friends and classmates, as well as the de la Salle Christian Brothers,  Sisters of Charity and lay faculty members who had once been our teachers.   Although quite a significant number of changes must most certainly have transpired  since September of 1971 in each of those people’s lives,  and in that section of Queens, all I could see were people, places and things I could still recognize as if my absence from that world might as well have been only for a few months instead of decades.    We talked  quite naturally about our current lives and our past, absent friends and all sorts of of other things     After Mass at St. Gabriel’s, and a tour of the school, my parents and I, along with some old friends and their families, went back to 92nd Street to visit the old neighborhood.     It was all so intense.   From there we went to Bruno’s, on Astoria Boulevard, for a really nice party.   Bruno’ s wasn’t there in my day so that was one of a few obvious changes I could recognize right away.      My parents sat with their old friends and I sat with mine.     Yet again all I could think of over the course of the whole thing was that  I was now  in some odd incomprehensible environment.    As a youngster I had always associated with these people quite naturally because as friends, neighbors, classmates and teachers of mine they  were then the cast of  characters of my everyday normal life.    This time, though, they were, in a way, part of another world entirely, one that was only geographically the same.


5 thoughts on “back to st. gabriel’s

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