Emma, circa 1985

A recently unearthed memory from 1985 or thereabouts (I think, anyway): some of the details still elude me, like what school event this took place after – it might have been the spring musical? Or a band concert? I suppose it might even have been the end of a plain old school day, during that short lull period between the final class and the beginning of band practice.

I was in the main hallway of the music wing at Pascack Valley High School, near the doors that opened onto the backstage area of the auditorium, when a voice called my name. It was a voice I hadn’t heard in a while, and indeed, it was Emma Armstrong (née Bassant), who I believe had graduated the previous year. Emma unleashed that toothy, cockeyed, glorious smile of hers, apparently delighted to see me. I was SHOCKED, simply because at that time the concept of people being delighted to see me was so far outside of the boundaries of my worldview, but damned if it wasn’t genuine.

Emma gave me an enthusiastic hug of greeting. If memory serves, she was wearing a blue coat, and she also wore contact lenses, which threw me for a couple of seconds. She asked how I was, and we chatted briefly, although back then I was even less skilled at spur-of-the-moment conversation than I am now. I wandered off uncertainly, as I tended to do in moments of transition, and that was that.

That was the last time I saw Emma in person, so of course I never told her how much I valued that unexpected moment with her. I loved seeing you then, Emma; it really meant something to me. Thank you.


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