Rah Rah

I  just received an e-vite to my 45th high school reunion. Is it possible that I could be this old?  Wasn’t it just a blink ago that I was soaking up the sun on the grassy area next to the cafeteria at RHS  while the Mamas and the Papas sang “Do you want to dance” in the background? So the question is: do I want to go to the reunion? I’ve managed to avoid all of the previous ones. I did arrange an informal reunion with women classmates in the city about twelve years ago, but that was different. Every ten or fifteen years when the reunion comes up, I consider going. Should I or shouldn’t I? I picture how it will be. I select my outfit. I figure out who I’d go with and how I’d get there. I see myself walking shakily into the room that night and confronting my girlish past. Sort of like the eighth grade dances of yore.  Should I approach a group of people who look vaguely familiar?  Will the cliques reassemble as if 45 years haven’t passed? Will anyone be interested in how my life has unfolded? Will there be bragging about pied de terres, trips to Paris, annoyingly successful children, and prize winning grandchildren who hum Mozart?  Am I afraid of confronting aged, wizened high school crushes who have little hair? What will I talk to these people about? Death?  Why in the world would anyone go to a 45th high school reunion unless she is both masochistic and sadistic.  I’ve kept in touch with the old friends who meant something to me. Do I really need to take a halting trip down memory lane?

But it might be fun. It might be life affirming to hear what valuable and interesting things former classmates have accomplished in the world. They may be eager to see me and hear my story.  We may look at each other, stripped to the essentials by the ravages of time and experience, and recognize our eternal ties. I may be able to reframe some bad old experiences and see them in a new and healing way.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Written on the eve of my 20th reunion that I was unable to attend
By  A.E. Stallings

For the Briarcliff High School class of 1986

Just what I needed,
Just when the dreams had almost totally receded,
The dreams of roles for which I learned no lines and knew no cues,
Dreams of pop quizzes with no pants on and no shoes,
Just when I understood I was no longer among
Those ephemeral immortals, the gauche and pitiable young,
Suddenly come phone calls, messages sift out of the air
To ask who will be there:
Names I haven’t given a thought to in a score
(A score!) of years, and names I used to think about but don’t much anymore,
And those I think of all the time and yet
Have lost somehow like keys to doors I’ve closed, and some I have tried to forget—
And some who will never arrive at this date
Here in the distant future where we wait
Still surprised at how
We carry with us the omnipresent and ever-changing now.
We wince at what we used to wear,
Fashion has made ridiculous the high hubris of our hair.
Heartbreak, looked at through the wrong end of distance’s glasses,
Is trivial, and quickly passes,
Its purity embarrasses us, its lust,
The way we wept because it was unjust.
Why should we travel back, who’ve come so far—
We know who we are.
How can we be the same
As those quaint ancestors we have left behind, who share our name—
Why have we inherited their shame?


Categories: wisdom

1 reply

  1. Not me baby–I’m happy to keep the past in its place. Even with intrigue breathing its curiosity, I cannot be enticed to walk through that door leading to those high school classmates wearing twenty-first century garb.

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