In attending the Friday night and Saturday night events, I realized what it was I had been missing out on all these years. I had no idea that I would enjoy talking to people I barely knew in high school so much or how much I would cherish catching up with old friends I haven't thought about in years.
In high school, popularity, clubs, academics, sports, special interests, and other things tend to separate students into cliques that think they have little in common with other classmates. But by the time you hit your 40th reunion, you realize what a rich commonality you share of hometown memories, historic events, music, pop culture and growing up during the same years. High school differences have evaporated with the passage of time. Jocks are no longer jocks, the cheerleaders have gained a few pounds, and the nerds now rule the world. Time is the great equalizer.
My class survived the transition from the 60s to the 70s: the first year of busing, Vietnam, marijuana, ABBA, David Bowie, mini skirts, short shorts, Watergate, hippies, and tanning way too much. Father's Day became a national holiday the month we graduated. We not only shared many of the same classes and teachers, we shared the same world events. Now we look back on those high school days that often seemed so very hard and so confusing with nostalgia.
Some of our classmates did not survive the 40 years since we graduated, and that also tied the rest of us closer together as we looked at their photos and acknowledged how fragile life is.
One of my classmates posted eloquently about his feelings following our reunion, saying,
"You go to your home town and you are suddenly surrounded by the same crowd of people who enveloped you decades before on a daily basis – and there is something incredibly powerful about that... You see changes in the environment, and you see differences that age has wrought in the people you knew; but you also see the fresh-faced kids they once were, and through them - for one, ephemeral flash of time - you visit your own youth, and all the hope, and possibility, and heartache that youth involves. And it is hard to let that go."
So I don't plan to let it go. I am going to embrace all the hope, and possibility, and heartache until our 50th reunion. Half a century since graduation -- just one short decade away.