Reunion Thoughts

Let’s honor one more late-autumn passage before we head into the clash and tinkle of  Christmas: I mean the time-honored high school reunion, so often held in the days just after Thanksgiving.

Who under 90 does not anticipate this event without at least a twinge of apprehension? We were so young, and undefended against the judgment of our peers! I opened my old yearbook and felt it all again.

“To Terry: Never forget Chemistry!” someone wrote next to his smiling picture and the fact that I never took a single day of Chemistry in my life bothered me not at all. He had called me Terry, and added exclamation points.

“Best of luck to a swell kid,” wrote somebody else, but was I ever that? I remember being a timid kid, despite all my gay chatter as I strode along the hallways, my textbooks clutched tight to my chest. I know I was an anxious and an earnest kid, thrilled to be singing in the Chorus, and the Special Chorus, thrilled to be acting in the odd old-fashioned plays our ancient Miss Casey chose to be put on by us Drama nerds.

I was thrilled even to be part of the European Culture Club where we ignored grainy slides of Paris while whispering in the back of the room.

These were “activities”: what they told us we would need for our “permanent record.”

I also remember this: that in the Slam Book where people were expected to write blunt and candid things about each other I had been called a “poser.” I didn’t know what the word even meant and had to ask that girl at my lunch table.

” It’s true! I am a poser!” I thought when she exaplained it to me and for the rest of the year hung my head as often as I held it high.

But all that was then, and this is now.

Five years ago, my class put on a jam-packed reunion, complete with a tour of the old school, a pub night, and tickets to Saturday’s game, all before the big dinner in the hotel ballroom. But with my old reticence again in full flower, I managed only to attend that last event, where I didn’t even dance but instead lurked sadly over by the coffee, studying the fresh-faced pictures of the classmates now deceased.

So this time, in 2011, I wanted to do things differently. According when our just-passed reunion was announced last spring, I volunteered to join the planning committee. I knew only a few people on it. But even if I had known them all and they me, who would we have known really? We were all of us so young, all posers in our way,  fakin’ it to make it  in that looming grownup world.

I marveled at the two committee members who searched and called and searched some more until they had found almost all of our 800+ classmates, and could practically recite each one’s street address and circumstance. I loved all our meetings, in rainy spring, and swoony June and ripening autumn.

And when the big night came it was more than great.

I talked with Rob W and Debby S, with Dick S and Frank M and Sam P, with Jane T and Cheryl M and Allison C.

Mike M I get to see often but Ilona W I hadn’t laid eyes on since graduation.  Coming up to me that night she said, “I knew you right away, even from the back – Well, after adjusting for the maturation factor of course!”

We both laughed right out loud at that. So I guess humor lives on, and candor lives; and kindness too.

There was a lot of kindness on display that night, especially when that one guy’s belt broke on the dance floor and his pants fell down. All night long I watched the dancers, smiling my face off. Here are a couple of pictures of two pals, Mary Ann and Ilona.

m paraskos & ilona w

 

the good old Electric Slide that brings so many together 🙂

And my new resolve, for the next reunion?  To go to all future reunions and talk to everyone there. To leave the deceased ones in their corner by the coffee, and to dance myself.

 

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16 thoughts on “Reunion Thoughts

  1. We knew everyone in our class – all 32 of us!!! and many of us email each other. and some of us get together for lunch once in a while!! We had a great class!!!

  2. The “Big 5-0” for the class of 1959 has come and gone, along with the sweetness and sadness that it provided. Through a mutual friend, someone from the dusty distant past said, “Say hello to Art for me,” as she couldn’t make the trip from California to the reunion because of illness. The report of her passing over a year ago now still brings a reminder of that gathering, and of our times together so many years ago. Almost feels like a past lifetime.

    1. Oh it’s too bad she is gone now, and didn’t make it to the last one Art!
      It does seem like another lifetime with even our own selves sometime unrecognizable .. Unless we can find those portals that take us right back. Dreams do that for me….

  3. One of my major objectives for attending this reunion was to meet you personally. Mission accomplished, and pleaseantly so.

    I’m truly looking forward to the 50th and hope to pull along a few more reticent classmates who haven’t ever attended a reunion. It was fun.

    1. well THAT’S very nice to hear! I only wish I had known you even a little bit more and a little bit sooner so that I could have come to hear 12 children was it? eulogize their 100+ year-old mom a couple of years ago

  4. Still don’t like them. Maybe I’ll change my mind in 20-30 years… I think it’s different in the internet age and when you live near the town you went to school in. You tend to run into people you went to school with, and the ones you wanted to keep in touch with you still do.

  5. I remember the “slam book.” There were about l000 in the graduating class at my high school. When the slam book came around and I saw the page bearing my name, there were no comments. So I wrote “Swell kid,” with a column of dittos underneath.

    The last reunion I attended was our 25th. It seemed to me that everyone was where they wanted to be in their careers. The fierce competition that described our passage through high school was gone, and people were friendly and pleasantly curious about one’s life after high school.

    This was Newton High– I graduated in 1944 during the time of WWll.

    1. so they HAD that cruel invention even in wartime? I laughed out loud at you taking control with your own comment – and the ditto marks. Good for you! 1,000 kids in your class too amazes me. I thought the Boomer parents invented all that propagating AFTER the war.. of course there WAS no reliable contraception so… I guess that explains it. Anyway I’m gld your parents had YOU!

  6. Gosh, I haven’t been to a reunion since my 10th when I was terribly pregnant. That was over 40 years ago and now I am resolved to try to attend whenever my next reunion might be. 50th is over so I guess it’s on to 55 or even 60th!!

    1. I was pregnant at my 10th but with the formidable stomach muscles of the young I didn’t show.. Also I was only three or four months.
      Yes you have to go to the next reunions Jan, all of them.. What year did you graduate?

  7. After reading today’s column I expected all comments to be from our class but how wrong I was. It was wonderful to read the comments from other Class years, generations and communities. Terry, you found a common thread that weaves us altogether. Nice writing!

    1. Hey thanks Mike. I haven’t really alerted our class yet about the post so these are just readers drawn to the subject as referenced in the “tags”.

      I’m writing in the next few days about the traditional high school yearbook and a few other things relative to that but I find myself so exhausted these last few days i may take tomorrow off (which I kind of hate to do.)

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