Class of '72
So many of us are struggling with words to describe what the weekend meant to us. My class has a page on Facebook and the pictures and words have been streaming in at a fast pace since Sunday. I really had no plans to do a blog post about the reunion, but as a writer…I just had to try to capture some of the feelings that this event stirred in all of us. The other thing I hope to do is to encourage all of you who skip class reunions, to rethink that idea.
To quote some of my classmates, “Looking around, this weekend and seeing other old friends being together was all so familiar” “I feel like this weekend changed my life again” “but only the friends of our youth knew our families and where we came from”. I think it could be said that most of us were shocked at how wonderful it was to reconnect with old friends and even make some new ones. After all, at most we spent 12 years of our lives with these people and we have had 40 years of life, new friendships and experiences since leaving high school. It doesn’t make sense that when I saw my friend Elaine walking towards me, I felt such a rush of pure joy. The hug I gave my friend Liz, was genuine and filled with love even though I hadn’t seen her in 20 years.
I think there is something to be said for people who knew you before “life happened” to us all. It was a time of hope and innocence for most of us, although I have learned that some classmates weren’t living my sheltered childhood and yet they never told us. I knew when my mom died and so many classmates sent me messages through Facebook, that there was something special about the bonds we created years ago. People who know me today, were kind and very sympathetic but those who knew me back then, had spent the night at my house, had my mom for a Girl Scout leader or been to my birthday parties. They knew her and that helped me through the worst time of my life.
During our class picture, one of my friends who knows me the best, realized that as an extremely claustrophobic person, being somehow situated in the middle of 100 plus people for what seemed like forever, without dinner, in the heat and humidity was starting to get to me. She was standing right in front of me and probably felt my knees start to shake…what no one knows is that she stuck her hand up behind her back and grabbed mine and held on until the picture was done and quietly said under her breath, “do you need to leave”. True friendship based on years of knowing someone very well.
We talked about our classmates who were no longer with us…and how much we missed them. We talked of those who still live in town and didn’t come and how much they were missing by not showing up! We missed many who live away and for some reason didn’t make the trip. We had people come from Oregon, Texas, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado and I’m sure other states. I doubt anyone would say they regretted making the trip.
We learned that some of the boys thought we were cute in junior high but never bothered to let us know (oh what a difference that would have made in the 7th grade), that where you lived in school and what your father did makes absolutely no difference now that we are all grown up (it didn’t matter then either, we just didn’t know it), that the class clown is still funny and that years can drop away in a heartbeat and you fall right back into the banter that you had decades ago. We discovered that people who felt like wallflowers in school are really great people and they certainly weren’t ignored anymore (isn‘t it sad they ever were). We are a class that we has produced lawyers, doctors, business executives, teachers, laborers, housewives, mothers, fathers and grandparents…funny, smart and caring individuals. Our parents and our teachers would be proud I think of who we have become.
Grade School Classmates
The point is, it was worth it. It was worth all the work (done by others, not me) to prepare for this event. It was worth the travel, the manicures, the worrying about what to wear (I screwed that one up on the second night-bad outfit for pictures). It didn’t matter that we didn’t lose the 20 pounds or that we couldn’t read the name tags because we all have old eyes. There was something special happening in Mattoon, IL last weekend…and I am so glad that I was part of it.