Thinking of Skipping Your Reunion? Give it Some More Thought

30 Jul

by Roger White

 

I hadn’t been back in years. And years. And some more years. I was looking forward to going, but I was oddly anxious. Downright nervous, even. This was the big weekend—my high school class’ 35th-year reunion. Thirty-five years since we crossed that stage and said goodbye. Thirty-five years since we slipped condoms into the principal’s hand as he shook our hands in congratulations.

 

And you know, gentle readers, what the significance of the 35th is, don’t you? Correct, it means you’re old as dirt. Mind you, I graduated high school at age 9, but still, we’re not talking about spring chickens here. Who would be bald, with giant beer bellies by now? Who would have gray whiskers? And what about the men?

 

I live a long 200-mile stretch from my old hometown, and I had plenty of time to think and fret and wonder on that highway journey. If you’ve ever been to any of your high school reunions—the early ones, I mean (about 10 or 15 years out)—there’s still some of that old high school angst lurking about. You know, the old rivalries, the flames, the grudges. You’re out to show what you’ve done in the world. And you still burn to coldcock the school bully who gave you that atomic wedgie. In fact, you even bring to the reunion dinner those ruined Fruit-of-the-Looms in your coat pocket in hopes of hanging them from his ears. But that was long ago, I reasoned as I drove. This reunion has been 35 years in the making. We’re in a new century now, a new millennium. Heck, Jimmy Carter had just taken office from Gerald Ford when we graduated. A gallon of gas was 62 cents! Leisure suits were high fashion. Surely there was no reason to worry about any old hard feelings, was there? Would I even remember faces and names? Would I be able to hold in my stomach well enough?

 

By the time I got to Fort Worth, where our class would gather, I was practically in a cold sweat. I still couldn’t figure out exactly why. My mates were going to meet at a downtown bar Friday evening, with the reunion set for the hotel down the street the next night. I stopped in at a bar two blocks from the designated meeting place and downed a couple of quick ones to steady myself. I even considered, though briefly, of just skipping out on the whole thing. It was a battle of vague fear versus scotch. Thank God for scotch.

 

Dear readers o’ mine, I was no high school stud, no big man on campus. I was just one of the crowd. I had my share of friends, but I was a bit of a loner. I didn’t really fit in with the jocks, or the “in” crowd, or the band, or the brainiacs, or the ropers, or the stoners. I was what you’d call a “floater.” And I wasn’t sure how that would translate to this same group of people, three and a half decades down the road.

 

I’m here to tell ya, gang, it didn’t matter one bit. The weekend I spent with my buddies and rivals and flames and acquaintances of old was nothing short of treasure (what I remember of it). We laughed and sang and reminisced and reminded ourselves how genuinely wonderful it was to be young when we were young—in a small town during a time when simple pleasures meant so much. We all had been away from these faces, out in the world, managing the day-to-day grind, for so long that the only thing we knew when we got back together this time was how much we missed each other. How much we were truly family. And how much the morning sun hurt like hell the next day.

 

If my experience can be a barometer, my cosmic cadets, then let me urge you: if it’s been a long time and you’re on the fence about seeing your old mates, take the chance. You know that song, sit it out or dance? Dance, by all means. And leave those ruined Fruit-of-the-Looms at home; there’s no need.

 

As I was leaving the Sunday brunch, the last event of the reunion weekend—and all the long hugs goodbye were done—I got in my little car and headed for home. It was only fitting that this Moody Blues song came on the radio as I drove away:

 

“Lovely to see you again, my friend,

Walk along with me to the next bend…”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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12 Responses to “Thinking of Skipping Your Reunion? Give it Some More Thought”

  1. Rusty Pope July 31, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Roger, EXCELLENT JOB…..loved every word. One question, why the hesitation??? Family is always welcome. Rusty

  2. donna nolt July 31, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    This is priceless..My BHS 35th is next year..Went to the 30th and it was great..

  3. Karen J Walker July 31, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Love it ! I had to share. Hopefully, we will have some new~old faces at our next reunion.

  4. Caren L Sanders July 31, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Roger that was so true! Thank you my friend for yet another great article! By the way……it was great seeing you! Until we meet again……….hugs!

  5. Ilene Sessums Pope July 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Couldn’t say it better, son. You make me and dad so proud! He He He

    your adoptive mom ;o)

  6. SCHARLOTTE ELLIOTT August 2, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    THAT WAS GREAT……. I TOO HAD SOME OF THE SAME THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT GOING, BUT MY MIND WAS MADE UP FOR ME WHEN I HAD TO HAVE KNEE SURGERY AND WAS UNABLE TO ATTEND. I KNOW I MISSED OUT ON ALOT OF FUN. I WAS GLAD THAT I COULD ATTEND THE LUNCH ON SUNDAY THOU.. LOVE YOUR BLOG.

  7. Lyndie Freese Dilleshaw August 3, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Didn’t think I was going to get to go and was very blessed to get to after all. It was well done. A memory I’ll always look back at and smile. I had a blast. Couldn’t have been better planned. You guy’s still rock!!!

  8. Mindy Truly Davis August 3, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    As usual, awesome job Roger. Thanks for putting it in print. What a great weekend!

  9. Kat August 6, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Great write!!

  10. Jimmy Williford August 19, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Roger….Know it’s been little over 3 weeks since Our GREAT 35TH Class Reunion, but with the “OTHER” event I had scheduled while in the States, and now having returned to Korea, its took me awhile to collect my thoughts about that weekend and your OUTSTANDING article about that weekend. Was a totally Fantastic weekend and so great to see you. Think the photo of you and I will be talked about for YEARS!!! Thanks for making me Famous in my Home state of Texas with that as a part of your article. For your faithful followers it needs to be known that you were a leader amongst the GREAT CLASS OF 1977…..Valedictorian……school news paper editor…..and STATE CHAMPION MILER…..wouldn’t call that a floater…..Love you my friend…..Just need to work on your lifting techniques….be well old friend….can’t wait to see you again around the next bend….Jim W

  11. Victim of the Fury September 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    I just skipped my 30-year reunion and applied all the worries you cite as justification for not being there. Now, truth is I’m 4000 miles away from my hometown and, besides the travel, getting away from work just then would have been a problem. Your article has made me think however that, rather than tell myself a bunch of reasons why I didn’t really miss anything, I should instead glean whatever I can about the event from afar and look forward to attending the next one. Nice post, thanks.

  12. Carol Jordan January 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

    Great story! I have been to all the reunions and I love every minute of them. I am sad I don’t live in Texas anymore, but I love the time we spend together!! Can’t wait til August🤗

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