Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

     The old Girl Scout song lyrics have never felt so true to me as they feel this week. I just spent the weekend in the company of many of my high school classmates as we celebrated our 40th (ugh) class reunion.

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.


xinex said...

Oh how wonderful to attend this special event, Sue. I am one who is guilty of not attending HS reunions but they are held in another country and I do keep in touch with the classmates on email and FB. Thank you for sharing this momentous event with us...Christine

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Sue, that is great that your reconnected with your school friends. My class has not done a good job at all of keeping up or having reunions. I helped organize the first five year one and then years went by with nothing. There was another one that I missed since we were out of town for a business conference at the same time. Have not heard of one since and I am just one year behind you.

Barbara F. said...

So glad you reconnected and had a great time. xo

Unknown said...

That was so nice for you, seeing all your old friends again. I miss my old girlfriends from school!
Thanks for sharing,

Blondie's Journal said...

You really described the reunion and your feelings well, Sue. I haven't been to a reunion since our 10th. I was so shy in H.S., it was quite different to be there with more confidence. I'm glad you got to reconnect with old friends, they are the best!


The Charm of Home said...

How wonderful Sue that you all got to get together. Our class is not good at reunions. I am glad you had a wonderful weekend!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous post, Suzy! I'm still smiling...The people were great, the laughs were amazing, and I've never been kissed so much EVER!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Sounds like you had a very enjoyable/fun time. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

Patrice said...

You're very brave...I have no intention of ever attending a class reunion...LOL!

Maria said...

What a wonderful time you had, Sue! One of my neighbors posted a picture of our neighborhood party from about 20 yrs ago! How everyone has changed! Our kids are "little kids" really little! So much time has passed! Isn't it great though, that with good, good friends, it always feels like NO time has passed?!!!
Blessings to you always, Sue!

Sue said...

all so true and well said it make me wonder why I don't go to class reunions. Maybe I'll make the next one.

Nancy said...

Since my 45th reunion is coming up in 2 weeks, I really appreciate this post. I've gone to every reunion and I think they just keep getting better!

koralee said...

What fun!!!! It really is special to reconnect! xoxoxo

bj said...

So glad you had such fun.
I went to our 50th reunion and we had such a GREAT time. Since then, we've lost 4 classmates so I am so glad to have seen them at the class reunion.
And, you are right. Being with people that knew you "before life happened" is a very special thing.
xo bj

Nellie's Cozy Place said...

Hi Sue,
so glad you had such a great time.
Wow, what you said is probably so true. I have never gone to my class reunion because I moved at the end of my Jr. year and I really didn't know that many people and you don't make that close of friends in just a year,
but would have loved to have gone to the one from before I moved, but I do keep in touch with several of my best friends. that history is neat, cause it is nice to know there is someone who knew you before and what your old life was like before you left home and where you are today. Such a good post,
and so glad you got to experience
that.........and that you were brave enough to go too!!
How did your dad and daughter fair
in all the rain. It was pretty intense but we didn't have any flooding thankfully, just lots and lots of rain and dreary days.

Take Care hon,
blessings, Nellie

dee dee said...

Looks like your reunion was both memorable and fantastic! thank you for sharing your sweet story!
dee dee

Lori R. said...

I'm from the class of 1975. I have been friends with one girl for 50 years. We went from school mates and friends to sister-in-laws.

BrightenedBoy said...

It must be really surreal to see childhood friends after such a long time. I'm meeting up next week with a high school classmate I haven't seen since my own graduation, which was only six years ago, and still it seems as if worlds have passed in between.