INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — My husband and I spent a lovely weekend over spring break in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was raised and attended school until going east for college. In addition to witnessing the Isotopes win their season opener on a sparkling clear evening, we shared various other meals and events with friends of Wayne’s, many of whom he has known since second grade and with whom he shared classes all the way through senior year. Such are the folks with whom one makes a life. Watching their ease with each other, listening to them share stories — some of which were new and many quite familiar — I was struck by the power of the relationships we form over time.For my 60th birthday, our guests’ connections with me spanned from all of those 60 years to as recently as just a couple of years. One of my oldest friends brought heart-shaped stickies for everyone to wear. Each was instructed to write the number of years we had known each other, making for easy conversation starters and marvelous anecdotes. I’m always amused when someone I treasure tells me I’ve “got good friends” and seems not to recognize his or her own contributions to the mix.Still new to Incline Village, I remain acutely aware of the difference between old friends and new — as well as the value of both. Wayne’s long-time friends (who are actually getting old, as the increasing grey hair attests) know him from the heart. They shared the same teachers and experiences that helped form him. As they discussed their perspectives on everything from religion to sports to education to family, it was fascinating to hear where their voices and opinions sounded nearly identically and where they diverged dramatically. They share a level of trust and mutual respect forged in those same classrooms and on the same playing fields. At the same time, it would be impossible for any of them to see each other in a new light, without certain preconceived perceptions.During my birthday celebration, it was fascinating to eavesdrop as new and old friends chatted or to hear reports during the days following the party of what someone new had learned from someone old — or vice versa. During the ten months I have been in Incline, I have been privileged to meet a wide variety of people, from children at Lake Tahoe School to parents of those students to faculty and staff to members of the Incline community. Each, initially, is a fresh connection, a chance for two people to meet each other without any biases or preconceived notions. In a sense, it’s an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, though that is neither likely or advisable. We do, however, have the luxury of being able to forget the embarrassing things we did as children or in our last jobs. No one is going to remind us of when we were fifteen and...Years ago my husband, our two daughters, and I moved from Denver to Bethesda, MD. There I taught a fifth grade class my first year that I dearly loved. They were a wise and humor-filled class. Having been told that we had moved from Denver, they were surprised one day to hear that I had been raised in California, gone to college in upstate New York, lived in Japan and Arizona. The faces of some reflected a kind of shock that I had lived so many places.Mark Knepshield, with whom I reconnected on Facebook recently, had a much better view of things. “You must have a lot of friends!” he exclaimed. Yes, I do, and I’m very happy to include several members of that class, now in their 40’s, among them. I expect the same from my time in this lovely spot.— Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.
Glass Half Full: The power of relationships formed over time
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