Tuesday, July 17, 2012

High School Reunion.......or, "Let's Twist Again"

Our high school class just celebrated a 65th birthday party, called "The Class of '65 Turns 65!"  It has been 47 years since Randy and I graduated from high school.  One classmate noted that most of us were born in the year 1947, making that "connection" more meaningful. That same classmate remarked that to attend both evenings of reunion bliss cost a mere 65 dollars per person.( I hope you caught that numbers 65 and 47 kept repeating themselves here.) We were the first graduating class of our high school, which makes us even more special, we think.

With those "signs" that this was all good, we let loose and had such a wonderful time together after lo' these many years, that today's "letdown" seems more like a blissful hangover, and I cannot stop smiling.

The pettiness and cliquishness of high school drama-trauma hasn't reared its ugly head in all the reunions I have ever attended, high school OR college.  We must have grown up!  We've all survived good times, tragic times, highs, lows, wins and losses. For two days we celebrated the survival of it all.  We mourned for those who didn't make it, and missed others who could not, or would not, join in the "wild rumpus" of celebration.

There was genuine joy in finding a person long unseen, yet remembered, fondly or otherwise, in the group of happy folks who made the effort to come and see the rest of us. 

Serving on the "committee" for this weekend, I saw that "ice breakers" were never needed.  Who needed to take a quiz about the school colors when all around us were the very people who helped us to choose those colors?  Prizes for that icebreaker and other quickly-planned things to "get them talking" never needed to be used.  We were talking when our feet hit the ground on Friday evening, talking while we danced, and we were talking when we sadly bade farewell until "next time" at midnight on Saturday night....or thereafter.

In previous writings I've referred to class reunions as a time when people who gestated together in the turmoil of adolescence come together to "rub souls and brush up against each other." It is when we remind ourselves that we knew each other "then," somebody knew us, we know them yet, and then we board planes or cars and leave them behind until the next time.  It is reinforcement of who we are, who we were, and finding out that our roots remain intact.  It is, in some ways, a spiritual happening and renewal of our very being.  We are who we are because of this connection to our past.

My mother was a folk dance and square dance teacher.  In her  obituary, the headline called her "The Folk Dance Lady," as nearly every youngster in the west side of our city had learned to dance from her in schools or scouts.  She touched souls in our community, bringing them together for an hour here or there to dance, and then sent them on their way.

 Mom headed up the all-school May Festival each spring in a large gymnasium. She taught dancing in the schools for the year, and then on a sweltering night in May, elementary students from all over the city, up to a thousand children, were dropped off by parents to have their moment of stardom as they performed a folk dance from some distant land. Each dance lasted perhaps four minutes, then with grins on their faces, the children left the center of the gym, to applause from proud parents, and sat and watched the rest of the kids do their dances. The children beamed with pride, parents clapped and smiled, teachers glowed with the feeling of having produced, joy prevailed, and all would then go home.

It was a coming-together, an event:  A happening.

Sometime after midnight of this Saturday I saw the similarity.

Ninety class members and thirty spouses came together this weekend, performed rituals of renewing friendships and reviewing memories, embraced each other with sounds of glee, beamed with joy and pride in the very knowing of each other, danced a few steps, and then departed, taking fond memories home.

 I am still enjoying the glow of the renewed ME. 

I wonder if my classmates feel that, too: renewed.  I've touched home base.  I got here.  I've worked. I've aged.  I've crossed over a bridge of troubled waters.  I've endured. And so did they!  And I will most surely make every effort to go around once more, and then come back again to touch home base once more, as this is pretty good stuff.   I want to do it all over again!  I surely hope they do, too.

copyright:  KP Gillenwater