It was my 50th high school class reunion. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. When I look in the mirror, I see someone much younger, someone more around the age of 35-ish, rather than someone eighteen…plus 50 years since graduation. We were “the girls of the 50’s, stoned rock and rollers of the 60’s, and more than our names got changed as the 70’s slipped away,” giving a nod to K.T. Oslin. Of course her song is the essence of our youthful times, and not the reality for most of us.
I only went to my graduating high school one-and-a-half years. That’s not long enough to form lifelong bonds, and yet I did…with a couple of friends with whom I roomed in college. They are the kind of friends a person can be away from for years, and then meet up, and it be like two class periods since you yakked it up. There are others with whom I had an acquaintance in high school and college, who must have liked me more than I realized, and who have friended me on Facebook, and kept in touch since we became re-connected.
My high school town is a four hour drive from my home, but people came from the states of Washington, Connecticut, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, and beyond. My long-time friend came from Atlanta, and I came from Winston, and the festivities began a day before the actual reunion gathering. Actually, they began way before that with multiple phone calls that included an outline of plans, timelines, and instructions. There was some Facebooking with lesser known, but still viable friends regarding my insecurities and musical memories. Talk about a “throwback Thursday” moment! Truly, I shouldn’t need to be reminded that nobody cares about my Spanx.
So, though we are not yet blue-hairs, we certainly have a lot of grey, even if some of us don’t want it to actually show, yet. We have been given the gift of life, and most of us have made the most of it. We are quite accomplished. There are lots of teachers, and surviving a career of that is, in its self, an amazing accomplishment. We are dads, moms, grandmas, and grandpas, and we are artists, cartoonists, musicians, entrepreneurs, business owners, office managers, automotive advisers, technicians, airline attendants, bankers and engineers, farmers and contractors, health care professionals, doctors and probably lawyers, though I didn’t actually talk to anyone who was or is a lawyer. Most of us are recently retired. Some of us still struggle with feelings of lack of purpose (me), and some relish the world of leisure after a life of a shoulder to the grindstone. Many (probably all) have struggled with heartbreak and health issues. Most importantly, we are caring, loving, empathetic, friendly, joyful people.
All that said, stories were exchanged, hugs were rampant, and laughter abounded. The gathering was great, and my apprehensions were for naught, of course. One classmate, wiser than I (naturally), said, “I don’t know most of these people. I’m just going to stick my hand out and introduce myself.” I followed suit, and it was just like a cocktail party, well actually, it was a cocktail party, maybe even two. I met and re-met the nicest, most beautiful, talented people anyone would ever want to know.
For a time, long ago, when we were yet unformed, we shared some space in a building. Fifty years later, we find, we share space in each others’ hearts. Yeah, no one cares about my Spanx, or anyone’s weight, love handles, lifestyle, or bank account. Former friend, old acquaintance, or stranger, we just care about each other. I think we graduated.