The Thanks Series #5: School Pals

I’ll be using maiden names here, since that’s how I knew some of these folks.

1. Lori Wilcox. In Lori, I found an intellectual rival and friend. She brooked no stupidity, seemed to know precisely who she was, and owned the space around her. She asked smart questions and aspired to be a successful writer, like I still do. She was fun, funny, very smart, and we had a few classes together. Admittedly, I had a crush on her, but she was I guess engaged to some dude in the military so I didn’t want to get involved there.

Her friendship was valuable to me because it taught me about friendly competition, ambition, the value of work even when mental gifts are substantial, and she was just an all around good person. I will never forget her as one of my only real female friends from school.

2. Kelly Pepper. Apparently Kelly and I were supposed to be rivals, since I showed up and was a sudden contender for valedictorian of our class. But Kelly was too nice, too good and just too generous for any real rivalry to happen– at least from my perspective. When we thought that I’d gotten the win, she was very congratulatory and kind. When she got the win, she was graceful and kind.

The other thing about Kelly is that she had a circle of friends who were all remarkably talented ladies and gents. But she seemed to have no problem allowing me to become a part of that circle, inasmuch as I allowed friendship in. She was my neighbor for a while too, and she always struck me as good to the very core. Her example is a powerful one.

3. Danny Holland. I am pretty sure that Danny was the guy who got me singing. He was playing, I believe, in a community orchestra for The Messiah and he urged me to join the choir and he also drove me to and from practices. That experience of singing in The Messiah was a life-changing one that I will always be grateful for. So I am grateful for Danny. I also am grateful that Danny was laser-focused on his goals as an artist and his success with that career is an inspiration.

4. Billy Heyborne. Billy was one of the circle of friends I previously referenced. He was smart, very funny, and very good as well. It strikes me as Providence when I think about these people that I was surrounded by when I left the Foundation. They were all so genuinely good, in stark contrast to the people I’d known my whole life. Billy’s testimony was sincere, his intelligence was obvious, and his covenants were lived out loud. His is another example I often think back on.

5. Aaron Wilson. Aaron was another new kid. He and his family moved to town about the same time I did. He had an unusually sharp sense of humor and he also could dance like crazy. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but I have distinct memories of chatting with him and laughing at his irreverence and his skewering of the status quo. Sadly, I dated his younger sister for a little while.

Yeah.

6. Annie Henderson. To Annie: You spoke to me. You asked me what I was writing in that hallway in Kanab High School on my first day. I rebuffed you, and for that I apologize. You were so generous of spirit and so very sweet. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop regretting my shyness. I think we could have been very good friends. You and your buddy, Jennifer, were so unexpected in your appearance, your kindness, your fun spirits, and your acceptance. You’re a great person.

7. Ryan Campbell. I’m irritated that we only really hit it off during our Senior trip to California. Ryan is a big guy; he played football and did well. But you would be doing him an injustice to call him a jock. He’s a smart and funny guy too, with an off-beat sense of humor and very strong opinions on a variety of issues. Ryan and I agreed that Space Mountain was the best part of Disneyland. Today he is one of the people I chat with most online. This is because he continues to be a smart, funny, and good person.

8. Rob Watson. Rob was different. He and I shared many friends, but he was so smart and so interested in using his brain in productive pursuits, that I don’t think I ever gave him a chance to be a good friend. We are much better friends now than we ever were in high school. But I remember Rob’s interests lying with science fiction, space stuff, and music. His mother was also the coolest librarian ever.
I respected Rob a lot and thought he was a really neat guy. I wish now that I’d taken more time to hang out with him. He would have been a marvelous influence on me.

9. Kara Christensen (Campbell). I think this is Kara Campbell’s maiden name. Yes, she’s now Ryan’s sister-in-law; she married Ryan’s older brother Shane, whom I ought to mention in one of these Thanks Series. Kara was maybe a year younger than me, but she stood out from the small crowd at KHS because she was just so full of life. She danced with the high school’s dance team and she seemed to excel at academics too. She was on the trip that I went on to Dixie college in St. George wherein some kind of academic olympics was going to happen. She witnessed the unfairness of the spelling bee, when I misspoke my spelling of ‘massacre.’ She also took pains to make sure that I never forgot that humiliation. For being an unexpectedly good friend, I thank Kara.

And that’s it for this set. The next set should be pretty juicy.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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