Monday, September 16, 2013

A Weekend Stroll Down Memory Lane

When a few of my "old" classmates and facebook friends began discussing the possibility of a 30th year class reunion a few months ago, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to see old friends, yet I knew it can be awkward and a bit depressing to get together with people who haven't spent much time together in over 30 years.

So I decided I'd build the anticipation and fun by making a slideshow for the reunion. All of my daughters' high school graduations have included a slideshow presentation, and it's one of the funnest parts of what can be a very long, drawn out event. We, however, graduated several years before power point presentations and thus - no slideshow for us. So I dug out some old school photos, year books and yellowed newspaper clippings. Some classmates sent me photos - old and new alike. I even spent an afternoon stalking class members' photos on facebook. Most sobering of all, I found myself googling obituaries of the four class members we'd lost since our last reunion.

Many of these classmates were ones that I'd known since I was 5 years old...ones that I'd spent 8 hours a day with, 5 days a week...for 13 years (we were one of the first classes to experience that amazing grade called "kindergarten!") You don't spend THAT much time with people, especially during such formative years, without getting influenced by and attached to them.

Then, something almost prophetic happened a couple of weeks before the reunion. While I was visiting with a friend of mine, she simply mentioned high school reunions. You have to understand - this friend had no idea my 30th reunion was coming up soon. She just started talking about how she gladly chose not to attend her 20th class reunion this summer, even though her mom tried to encourage her to consider it. Here's what she told me her mother said:
My ten year reunion wasn't so great...we were still pretty immature, click-ish and too concerned with "Who's popular and who's not."
My twenty year reunion was pretty good...but many people were too focused on bragging about their successful careers.
But my thirty year reunion? It was GREAT! By that point in life, we'd faced the reality of loosing some class members and we were mature enough to just celebrate the fact that "We're still alive!"

And you know what? She NAILED it. My 30th reunion turned out to be one of the funnest weekends I've had in a long time. Moments of tears, moments of reflection, but mostly just moments of laughter. Laughter over old memories and stories...and laughter at ourselves and our modern problems. ("I've got a smart phone, but I'm too #@%! dumb to use it!") Lots of mingling...amongst everyone. So what if she was the popular cheerleader and he was the nerd? Who cares if one of them was a high school drop out and another got all A's? Life's too short and we were having too much fun to concern ourselves with such minuscule, ancient details. We've been around long enough now to realize that youthful good looks and popularity are fleeting...all of us made our share of mistakes...and dog gone it, life is short and we better just enjoy the people that have been a part of it while we still can.

Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel that you've done a permanent job. ~~Erwin T. Randall