A High School Miracle

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | 2 Comment(s)

Every   single     time    i hear one of the songs from that mix tape Alli (real name) gave me back in the early 90's, I'm transported back to Route 20; cruising the one lane highway from Pittsfield, Mass. to Albany, New York.   I couldn't list the songs out to you in any meaningful way.  I know a few:  Catholic Girls, My Girlfriend is a Centerfold, Jesse's Girl.  But i listened to that tape over and over in my previous car so often that the playlist is imbedded in my hard-drive.   So much so that any time one of those 20 or so songs pops onto the *sigh* classic rock station, i have a visceral response and think immediately of Alli.

I met Alli through my jewish youth group.  More accurately, Alli was my youth group best friend's girlfriend who i was introduced to at one of the many weekend events.  She was adorable and crude and I immediately loved her.   Being my best friend girl gave us the unique opportunity to hang out as platonic opposite-sex wing-people.  Sure there was some sexual tension . . . and perhaps, post her breakup with said boyfriend/best friend there may have been some mutual, and purely educational, ear-lobe suckery (hormones are a helluva drug), but 95% of the time we were just a couple of super kick-ass friends who lived an hour away from each other.  47 minutes if you don't mind occasionally getting pulled over for speeding (only once).

Now here is where it gets a little more interesting.  I did not have a wonderful time in high school.  It was nowhere near as bad as middle school, but it just wasn't my thing.  Frankly, my jewish youth group was my thing, for 3 main reasons.  

1) In my youth group i was considered attractive, popular, and hilarious.  In my high school, i was not.

2) In my youth group i had tons of friends who really liked me for who i was.  In my high school, i felt like i was hiding most of the time.  

3) And potentially most important:  In my youth group, girls wanted to make-out with me.  In my high school, not so much.  

And so, I increasingly wanted to spend my free time with these jewish friends, of whom none lived in Pittsfield.  The closest location with an actual grouping of my jewish friends was the greater Albany area.  So when the weekend rolled around, all those long weekday nights slaving through homework paid off in an ok to get the hell out of dodge.  I rode a bus or two.

My senior year I got my first (and favorite) car ever (1986 Volvo 740 GLE).   I was mobile.  The limiting factor now, however, became finding a place to stay on the tail end of these journeys.  To further bait the hook, i increasingly, and not coincidentally, i also started having girlfriends who, by totally happenstance (not by total happenstance), all lived in and around the greater Albany area.  But what parent is going to let their daughter's boyfriend come have sleepovers every weekend?  No matter how much i played up my quintessential "nice jewish boy" qualities, i needed a pad of my own.

It really was a social pickle.  And Alli popped the lid off it.  Well, more accurately, Alli and her parents.  Mr. and Mrs. T welcomed me into their home pretty much unconditionally ( i remember there few a few non-negociable rules).  I'm not sure whether it was that they knew Alli was dating someone else exclusively, or if it was because their older daughter had recently left for college, or if they are just the nicest, most giving human beings i was lucky enough to spend time with -- but they eventually set up a bedroom that was made "just in case Matt stops by this weekend."

And that's exactly what i'd do.  I'd just, be there.  Sometimes, Alli wasn't even there.  I think once I even stayed there alone.  But they became my family away from home and forever changed my high school years for the better.  Not only did i have a perfect location to visit my girlfriends from (heyo!), but i also retreated post "curfew," back to an actual slumber party with one of my best friends. 

 In a greater sense, Alli and her family turned the possibility of place where i could go to evade the dangers innate to my high school experience, and they made it real.  They gave me a place to escape to.  Whenever.  Whyever.   And, judgement free, I was always met with enthusiasm and excitement upon rapping their front door.  "Zimby's here!!!," I can still hear Mrs. T yelling up to Alli, Mr. T still enjoying his second cup of coffee and the Saturday paper at the kitchen table.  

The kindness i was shown by Alli and her family is the type that can never be repaid.  There simply is no way to do it.  Instead, it changed me as a human being.   It made me softer in the middle and more open to the simple miracles that exist when i am able to open myself up further that i felt comfortable, and to ask another person do the same.  Where those furthers overlap, i have found a consistency of simple miracles and occasional heartbreak. (ps. worth it.)  With Alli and her parents, it was all miracles. 


  1. Absolutely hit the nail on the head as to why our Youth Group was awesome. We all have the memories of the families that would just let us stay, for whatever reason. I was lucky that my parents house was, very often, that house. Great post, Zimby!

  2. oh my gosh, this still makes me weepy. I love you. We love you. You'll always be family and the door will always be open.