Class Reunions

11 Apr

For the last few years we have attended a family reunion the last week of July. We travel 750 from Texas to Illinois to spend approximately 3 hours at the reunion and then reverse the trip. It gives us a chance to see family members I hadn’t seen in years and to also visit longer with others. I consider it a good investment in time and money.

This year marks my 50th year since high school graduation. I had been expecting the invitation knowing full well that the committee would find a way to locate me despite a number of cross country moves. Now the invitation sits on my desk waiting for me to make a decision. To go or not to go, that is the question. It is scheduled for the last week of June so if we go, we would not make a return trip for the reunion.

We flew to Anchorage, Alaska to attend Harry’s 40 year reunion. We both had a ball. He had lots of old friends with whom he was able to reconnect. Although he had not stayed in touch, he quickly caught up on everyone’s lives. Even of 7 members who had passed, six were woman Harry had dated. He felt better knowing what had happened to them. I, in turn, had fun with all of the people who assumed we were in a class together. I answered that I took that class but was 3,000 miles and 5 years later.

His 50 year reunion was after his first stroke. I stepped up to plan the trip. We took the Alaskan Marine Ferry from Seattle to Haines, AK and then drove on to Anchorage. We had the camper and the dogs so we could go and do what we wanted. That was a good plan because he learned a set of valuable lessons.: 1) People age after 50 years so it is hard to recognize old friends if you haven’t stayed in touch, 2) It is harder to recognize people after a stroke and 3) the party is really dull when you can’t share stories. I heard more stories of inflated glory than I cared to hear rather than the fun stories of high school pranks from the 40th reunion. The time spent at the reunion was not the highlight of the trip for either of us. We enjoyed the drive back through Alaska, NW Territories, the Yukon and even British Columbia (not the friendliest.) I’d make that trip again but not go to another Anchorage reunion.

I attended my 20 year reunion because I had already booked a trip to Savanna and only had to extend the trip one day. I don’t remember if there were charges for making that change, but if there were, they were not worth the cost. I managed to stay at the reunion for 45 minutes and learned a few lessons as well. I had nothing in common with the graduates who stayed in Savanna, bought their parents houses and considered the success or failure of the high school football team an interesting topic of discussion. Many also chatted about how nice graduation was for their children. My children were 10 and 12 so graduation was to be a long way off.  There was the man who had to tell me how much he loved me in school but never had the courage to ask me out. I had known how he felt and now had proof why I never acted on it. I wasn’t mean; just not interested. I had attended to find out what had happened to a group of my friends but they were not there. I did learn that the cheer leaders still wore the same hairstyle and tried very hard to retain their glory days. Another friend had gone out into the world, graduated from college, married and then moved back to Savanna after her divorce. Short trip. Short stay at the reunion.

Many people consider high school the best days of their lives. I assume it is because they didn’t have to be adults and pay the bills. I never felt that way. I couldn’t wait to head off into the world and not deal with my mother’s daily criticism. She was never abusive but I didn’t meet her expectations of what a proper daughter should be. At college I had a tad more freedom and only had that criticism via mail, the telephone and quarter breaks. I was still waiting for the “best days of my life.” I know that it was not during the three years of my first marriage, nor the ten of my second or the six of my third.  Like Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” The good moments were few and far between but they were there. The twelve years single were hard but far better in so many ways. I would still not list them as the best days.

The best days of my life have been the ones married to Harry. Even now, we are able to laugh and just enjoy each day. What more can we ask? So the question remains, do we attend this 50 year reunion? Will any of my small group of close high school friends attend? One died when we were 36. The other three married and divorced.  One remarried and then was widowed. Another relocated to California to be near her daughter. If I thought they might be there, I’d consider attending. I can’t even do an Face Book search because I don’t know any of their last names now.

If the topic of conversation is the glory we each attained before retirement, I can hold my own but do I care? People on the East Coast retire to Florida. Those on the West Coast retire to Arizona and those in the Midwest, pick Texas. Some of my former classmates could be neighbors. That’s nice, dear. That is still not a reason to attend the reunion. These are people who moved out of my life 50 years ago. Others have come and gone in between. I am more curious about some of them but no one holds a reunion for neighbors or old coworkers.  I consider myself lucky that I have been able to maintain friendships I made in Auburn or Wenatchee, WA after moving away just three years ago.  I’m looking forward to the reunion of friends on our trip to Washington. That is the reunion that is important. So a class reunion? Not on my bucket list.

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