My high school reunion was last Saturday and at first I was skeptical about attending. I haven’t kept in touch with anyone, so at earlier reunions it had been easy to drop in, say hello to a few friends, and leave early. This time, it helped that for months before the event, classmates posted photos on Facebook from school, summer camps, slumber parties, birthday parties and other events to whet the appetites of the wary.
This reunion was different.
I loved hearing about my classmates’ lives and the many directions they’ve taken. Few conversations dwelled on people’s work. We shared memories of teachers, school principals, and being trounced in the annual Turkey Day football championship game. Grandchildren were a hot topic. The rock and roll band from high school days, “The Gents,” is still playing and, as everyone at the reunion will testify, still playing well.
One close friend, a Montessori teacher when I last saw her, now owns two restaurants. Even though they’re in another town, I realized I had eaten in one of them. She and another female friend learned to fly under their dads’ guidance and once owned their own airplanes, unheard of for women in the past — except, of course, for Amelia Earhart.
Why was this different from the 10th and the 30th? Over the years, everyone had mellowed. No one boasted about their feats in life. We weren’t going to change and we’d accepted our places in the world. Even though a few intended to diet ahead of time, I don’t think anyone really did. At a certain age, what you’ve done and where you’ve been matters less. Who you are now — on the inside — counts for more.
The reunion was also a time for true confessions. One guy told me he had a crush on me in sixth grade, called my house and played music over the phone. Now that’s a memory I wish I had retained. Memories are tricky. Another grade school classmate shared one about my mom that he had held on to for all these years. It was a nice one; regrettably, it was of someone else’s mom.
I had a great time talking to grade school friends, kids who lived in the same neighborhood, many of whom I played with. I can still picture their houses. I missed seeing those who didn’t come, who’d dropped from everyone’s radar or dropped from the world in a more permanent way.
The feedback we received suggests we should do it again, but sooner than ten years. It must be our age.