Sunday, September 7, 2008
A Magical Reunion
Our 40th reunion was memorable to me for several reasons: the classmates who showed up unexpectedly, the ones who didn’t show, the conversations I had with people we hadn’t seen in 40 years, and, tragically, my lost binoculars. The day brought back a flood of memories, I just got back today and a few emails have already arrived. Don’t be shy, email your impressions, memories, photos, etc. to SAHS68@gmail.com. First I wanted to wax poetic about the reunion experience and I can think of no better way than to plagiarize from “A Magical Reunion” by Bob Greene.
I had my trepidations about the reunion. It had been a long time since high school and we weren’t all that united back then. There were cliques and in-groups and people were left out; there was a lot of meanness in high school, and we all ran in our own little circles. I was afraid that the smallness that was always a part of high school might make itself shown and ruin the reunion; I was afraid that all of us would come to town looking for warm, nostalgic memories, and walk away with stark reminders of that things hadn’t been so perfect in ’65 after all.
But it didn’t work out that way. From the moment the reunion began, it was apparent that things were going to be a smashing success. Simply put, people had grown up. They had their triumphs and failures, their exultations and their miseries, and they were ready to touch base with the people who knew them best: the people with whom they’d gone to high school with for three years.
We all walk around every day pretending to be the characters we have invented for ourselves during our adult years, but we can’t fool our high school friends, they know who we really are, and from the first minutes of the reunion that knowledge provided a feeling of warmth and security that I could not have predicted. We were older and the worse for wear, but we were there.
People sat and talked who hadn’t spent 15 minutes together in all three years of high school. There was such kindness, such friendliness, that’s what struck me. Perhaps if the reunion had stretched into weeks the pettiness and bickering that we all deal with in the real world would have made itself evident. It didn’t though; it was if everyone at the reunion realized that something very precious, our memories, was at stake here. Screwing it up would mean screwing it up for all time.
I hadn’t been at my 10-year reunion, people who went said there was a different vibe. At the 10-year the men and women seemed too intent on impressing each other with what they had accomplished out in the world. They were too nervous about making sure that everyone knew how well they were doing. There wasn’t much of that this time, everybody seemed to realize that we were pretty much what were going to become. There will be more happiness and heartache along the way, but by and large this is it. This is who we are, accept it and embrace it.
And we did; we did. The world of ambition and ego waited on the other side of the reunion. For now there was only one word to describe what was going on: it was magic.