Sometimes I think the finest teachers of our past are all waiting for us up ahead.
It's as if you had agreed to an evening of bowling with friends. You arrive a little late and they're all there, instantly recognizable, even from a six-lane distance: the guy who always wears plaid shirts; the woman whose pigtails jiggle when she laughs; the black guy with the outdated 'fro; the 10-year-old dying to throw the ball like the grown-ups and given a chance from time to time; the man whose pants are always, always creased; and the other guy with his sleeves rolled well above the elbow so no one will miss the tattoo of the buxom lady on his left bicep ... all of them are there, friendly friends laughing and bowling and a couple of strings and a couple a beers ahead of you.
And as you approach, they turn one by one, smiles at the ready, welcoming and loving and gently derisive about your tardiness ... asking while knowing the answer doesn't matter now ...
"What the hell took you so long?!"