A snapshot in time
August 16, 2022
It occurred to me, after attending a class reunion this weekend, that somehow I’m pretty certain I’ve managed to attend all of the ones for my high school class.
I suppose that’s not really a surprise, after all I was Editor of our yearbook my Senior year and have always had a keen interest in people’s stories. Attending a reunion is simply a continuation of those stories; an opportunity to get a snapshot every few years of those who were a part of the early years of our lives.
Before I go much further, however, I know all my regular readers will be glad to learn that the Infallible Wikipedia has a page for the topic ‘class reunion’ as follows:
“A class reunion is a meeting of former classmates, often organized at or near their former high school or college by one or more class members. It is scheduled near an anniversary of their graduation, e.g. every 5 or 10 years. Their teachers and administrators may also be invited. Those attending reminisce about their student days and bring one another up to date on what has happened since they last met.”
But I don’t think the Infallible Wikipedia’s description does the topic justice. So I started thinking about my Eisenhower High School reunions through the years. At our ten year reunion – the first one we had – there were easily a couple hundred who attended. Our venue was one of the buildings at the Central Washington State Fair Grounds and, besides a dinner and dancing, included a photographer who was taking photos which could be purchased.
At the time, the hubby and I were DINKY’s (back in the 1980’s a DINKY stood for Double Income No Kids Yet). The snapshot of that night was one of people in their late 20’s, still trying to figure out their place in the world. Some had children and, although I did not, I can still see the look of complete exhaustion on the faces of those women. But I didn’t yet understand what that was like, as careers were everything in my world that reunion. At ten years, there was a weird game of one-upmanship still in play.
Truly, few of us had yet experienced some of life’s harder lessons. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of the 10 year reunion was the short list of those with whom we had graduated but who had already left this earth.
Fast forward five years, and the organizers (we have been blessed to have a team of, primarily, women who have made all of these happen!) planned a half decade reunion. This one, held in the early fall, included attending a home football game on Friday night and a picnic on Saturday.
Now, as a mother with an 8 month old baby, I left my son with the most reliable babysitters in the universe, his grandparents, and headed out to the stadium. Partway through the game, I look down from the bleachers only to see my Dad standing below motioning at me. My night out was over!
The next day, my not yet walking son and I attended the picnic and enjoyed the more casual setting and smaller numbers, getting advice from experienced moms and meeting many of their children also.
Year twenty the reunion was held in a big outdoor tent at a country club. At the ten and the 20 year reunions, A “tell us about your life” booklet had been produced and by year 20, the cliques and the labels of high school had started to blur.
One of my favorite snapshot moments was when I was talking to another girl when one of the guys from our class came over to talk to her. Still standing there and feeling a bit like a third wheel, there was suddenly a lull in the conversation and I blurted out to the guy, who we will call Adam, “I had the worst crush on you in Junior High.” I seem to recall he choked on his drink and nearly spit it out.
Onward the years have marched. Our group celebrated with a 35 and also a 40 and then, in 2020, a planned 45 year reunion was sidetracked.
Two years passed but our fearless organizers pressed on and proclaimed that 2022 would be our “Medicare Reunion.”
Suddenly, all those 17 and 18 year old kids I attended high school with were starting to retire. Most everyone had lost one or both parents; more names have been added to the dreaded ‘list’; there have been triumphs and disappointments; incredible joy and devastating sorrow; the loss of siblings; the loss of spouses; the loss of children. The cliques and labels have disappeared and what’s left are people who can simply enjoy a few hours of telling their stories and hearing other’s stories.
It’s the context which matters. These are the people who shared beginnings either in elementary school, junior high, or high school. When we look at each other we can remember the person and how they looked then. We can see past the wrinkles and gray hair. Their essence is still very much the same but is, I think, tempered by the experiences of life. We are kinder and more forgiving.
One of my classmates – who traveled from California for the event – said it best. My apologies for the paraphrase: It’s about the people and making connections with each other. And it’s important.
Time – and Covid – have taught us all these things and can be summed up in my favorite Latin phrase: Carpe Diem.
So the next time your high school or college, sorority or fraternity, or any other group you’ve belonged to, plans a reunion, Go. Go and connect with the people who knew you ‘when.’ Laugh. Cry. Enjoy. Hug. And be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them having been a part of your life.