I attended my 30 year high school class reunion this past weekend. It was odd.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends. I enjoyed the food, the music, the speech. I enjoyed the conversation. But as a writer my observational skills were in overdrive. I was completely overwhelmed.
Faces of the past loomed before me, morphed by wrinkles, gray hairs flanking their cheeks, bald heads defying our mutually held belief that somehow we were all still eighteen. Names that I should have known were whispered to me by those who remembered. Other names we all just shrugged.
I recognized almost everyone there, although I couldn’t tell you why or where I’d last seen them. Since high school, outside of social media, I have engaged with exactly two people that attended. One of them was my best friend and the other I went to university with. My best friend and I hadn’t seen each other in eighteen years, however. My college mate and I reconnected at a funeral a few years ago.
At our age it’s almost amazing that more of us haven’t reconnected at funerals. We’re getting old. We have grand children … well some of us do. Our children are driving cars and getting married. Our parents are passing away. We’re contemplating retirement.
And, as a classmate said in his speech Saturday night, … we’ve all had the rug pulled out from under us at least once.
Friday night, after our pizza party, I went to the hotel room of my best friend from high school. As teenagers we spent many hours sitting up til 3:00 am contemplating the fate of the world, of our world, of our lives. We did it again Friday night. We had to cover eighteen years in a heart beat it seemed. But we barely scratched the surface. She had been on my heart and my mind so many times over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for her only to receive an email from someone in Germany who didn’t speak English or from someone in Canada who wasn’t the correct nationality in response to my queries.
Honestly, I had given up. It was too hard to keep remembering, to keep searching, to keep aching for a friendship that was ripped from us.
Sure I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me more than once in my life … jobs have gone, friends have left, people have died, finances have been rocky, relationships have been sketchy … but that eighteen years without my friend was the worst.
We all form relationships as children, as teens, that define our conversations, our expectations, our visions, our needs as we mature and grow into adults. Those people we went to school with, those friends, those classmates, no matter what our connections later in life, are the ones who shared the ride, the music, the expectations, the stresses of trying to be someone other than who we were, of trying to find ourselves.
And yet, here we are, thirty years later, and most of us are just now beginning to understand that it’s okay to just be who we are.
Thirty years is a long time to wait to see a reflection of ourselves in another person. But that’s what a reunion is. A mere moment of a reflection that captures who we were, what we dreamed, and filters it all with what we have become.