UC Irvine's first four-year graduating class will meet on the campus this weekend to celebrate its first reunion and 20th anniversary. When I read Herman Wong's fine, thoughtful piece on this upcoming event in the Aug. 3 Orange County Life, it evoked a lot of vivid memories. I was there. And Diana Janas--one of the three members of that class on whom Wong focused in his story--was one of my first students. And one of the best.
For two decades, now, Diana and I have crossed paths in Orange County once every three years or so. On the street. In restaurants. At social functions. We always embrace, talk rapidly for three minutes, then part with vows to get together for lunch. It hasn't happened yet, but I've never doubted that it will.
I have a very special feeling for the students of that period, a feeling that was increasingly more difficult to come by with new students over the years as both the students and I changed. Without question, that erosion hastened my retirement from teaching. The old spark was no longer there.
I stay in touch, in a cosmic sort of way, with many of those early students who surface periodically--often from far places--to report in, then disappear again. Two stalwarts who haven't disappeared are David Kidd, who runs a marketing and public relations firm in Irvine, and Stephen Silverman, a converted New Yorker who called last week from Los Angeles, where he is creating the prototype for a new Hollywood magazine. Then he'll return to New York to raise money for a Broadway show he has written about Amos 'n' Andy, having won the rights on appeal after a three-year court battle with CBS. Although he reminds me periodically that I gave him a B+, one of many examples of myopia on my part, Steve has shown his gratitude in many tangible ways over the years.