A Letter from Michael Harris, CLS'71

On Sunday, September 19th 1999, I drove to the old campus with my life partner, Eddie, to remember my days at Cherry Lawn School. It was a sunny, warm, last glow of summer day. The kind of day we all remember from the first week back to school each year. We walked through the phantoms of class buildings and dormitories while I pointed to pictures in an old yearbook and told stories to evoke the days when I grew up at CLS. When I came across the plaque that had been dedicated only weeks earlier I read it and was deeply touched. For so long Cherry Lawn was my home. As the rest of my life unfolded since the school closed I have always felt like a war refugee who returns to his village to find it no longer exists; its residents scattered to the winds. Just as many alumni returned to visit and support the school when I was a student, I looked forward to CLS being there as a part of my future. I had been back several times to visit after the school closed. Each visit left me feeling nostalgic for days.

Upon returning home that evening I used the national directory service to locate and call Mr. Zuber. We spoke about where life has taken us since CLS. He sounded as sharp and vigorous as ever with a new career as a watercolor artist. When I mentioned the plaque he brought me up to date on the alumni association, the website, and the reunions. I don't have a computer, I've been in and out of the country over the past twenty years, and my telephone is unlisted. In short, I'm not the easiest person for an alumni association to find. The next day I went to the local library and used a computer to get to the CLS website and contact friends from long ago. Thanks to Stu Varden and the alumni association.

To tell you of my life since Cherry Lawn School I must begin with a funny story that happened as Eddie and I roamed around the grounds on that Sunday in September. We walked to the open space where Boys Dorm had been and I pointed out the row of three old apple trees, heavy with ripe apples. I walked over to get some apples and could barely find a branch low enough to pick from. I said, "I never had so much trouble getting apples from these trees when I was a boy. All I had to do was reach up and pluck as many as I wanted." Then, I was reminded, "Hey Mike, wasn't that thirty years ago?" I had to laugh. Of course the trees had grown much higher in that time and most of the fruit was too far up to reach out and pick. In many ways my life has been like those trees with branches that have grown high and wide and roots still deeply planted in Cherry Lawn soil. Since graduation day I have lived an adventurous and satisfying life. I worked for many years in the restaurant business. I have lived frugally so that at least once a year, sometimes more often, I could take off for a month at a time to travel the world. When I was approaching forty I began to find restaurant work boring and could not see my future in it. If ever the tale of Alice's encounter with the Cheshire cat was appropriate to remember it was then. I asked myself which way I should go and reflected on the cat's answer, "that, my dear, all depends on where you want to get to." I had always wanted to do some medically related work, to bring relief and comfort to people who were suffering. By chance, a chiropractor friend suggested that I attend an open house at a local school of holistic health offering a course in Massage Therapy.

I attended the open house and something clicked. I enrolled and worked full time as a steakhouse waiter, while going to school full time, to support myself and pay tuition. Now I enjoy a very successful career as a Massage Therapist and have a happy home life with my partner of several years. I owe so much of who I am today to the years I spent at Cherry Lawn School and to the faculty, staff and fellow students who gave so much of themselves in our daily life together. Thank you all. I would be happy to hear from any old friends from CLS. Please feel free to write or call and share the pleasure of renewing old memories.

Love and Best Wishes,

Michael Harris

Submitted 8-October-1999