Not many people can say one of their greatest memories about high school came more than two decades after they graduated.
Thanks to a complete stranger, I can.
Granted, I still have some friends from high school I keep in touch with, have fond memories of my senior football season in spite of our anemic two-win season and can attribute the start of my journalism career to back there, where I was the co-editor of the student paper. But I’d be lying if I said my time at Wasson High School prior to my 1995 graduation was the “best days of my life.” That came later.
I did, however, purchase a class ring. All of those marketing pamphlets and magazines made it seem like a good idea at time time, and being able to customize it in a way that fit my identity made it that much more appealing.
Not enough to hang on to, though.
Two years later, when my identity had transitioned from being the skinny high school jock to being the skinny college kid with a pony tail haircut with shaved sides — one of the few things I look back on and regret — that ring frequently sat on the shelf of the bathroom of the four-bedroom, one-bathroom house I shared with four people.
One of those nights we had a party and welcomed three to four — maybe seven — dozen people into our house for a party. The ring disappeared. And rather than attempting to track down and ask, or accuse, every person who was at the party if they’d taken that ring, I quickly conceded it was lost forever.
Then came last Sunday, when I got a Twitter message from Josh Carney, the man who took my place as sports editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent in Colorado.
“Hey buddy, hope all is well. Random question: did you lose a class ring?” he asked.
“Class ring? Yes, but it was years ago. Went to Wasson High School in Colorado Springs, class of 1995,” I replied. “Why? Did someone run across one with my name on it? Lol!”
I had my answer not long afterward from a stranger in western Colorado.
“Hey, I live on the Western Slope ... and think I found your class ring. Can I mail it to you?”
This prompted me to stop with Sunday yard work to pay attention, but there was still a lot of room for skepticism.
“Do you have a picture of it? Just wondering because I lost it years ago and never thought about it until just now when a buddy of mine asked if I had lost it. And where was this found out of curiosity? It should have a green stone on the top and, if I remember right, sports symbols on the side.”
She sent me a picture.
It was a spot-on match.
“Oh. My. God,” I replied.
She explained to me how her husband had purchased some abandoned storage units over the years and, this past Sunday, they ran across a box that had the ring in it. So with the help of Google, she found an online school yearbook and found two people named Jon. Her husband then noticed the name inscribed inside the ring. That paved way to a Google search that led to an article with my former email address at the Glenwood Springs paper, which was programmed to automatically go to Josh Carney.
And now, the ring is being mailed to my home in Winston.
“I’ll reimburse you for postage at least,” I said. “Can I send you something to say thank you, too?”
“I will get it in the mail tomorrow,” she replied. “I will send you the tracking number as soon as I create the label. No repayment required.”
Putting this in perspective, I tried to remember how much I got the ring for when I was in high school. Similar rings are now selling for around $500. And she didn’t have to do this. She and her husband live in Olathe, Colorado — about 45 miles south of Grand Junction and not far from the Utah border — and I’m sure she could have found someone who would have bought the ring from her.
But she didn’t.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” I told her. “I guess it goes to show there really are good people in this world.”
“That is thanks enough!” she replied. “My whole life I tried to be a good human, as I was raised. There are nice people still out there in a crazy world.”
And now, thanks to a random act of kindness, I have a crazy, life-long memory from high school close to 24 years after I graduated.