‘Twas the eve before Sunday and on the West Side, a strong gin and tonic could not be denied. The classmates sat perched on the edge of their chairs, wondering which of their other pals soon would be there.
I recently ran across some thoughts I’d posted after one of my class reunions—a timely read as cousins and friends’ children and friends graduate high school and college; as I reflect on being a sassy seventeen-year-old, in my cap and gown, the summer and THE WORLD ahead of me.
At this reunion, we were something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We were all creatures great and small. We were friends from grade school on, and acquaintances who hadn't seen one another since graduation. We were The Breakfast Club, grown older but not up.
We were some of us the adage "The more things change, the more things stay the same," others "You can never go home again." I pondered conversations and observations. I wondered who people were whom I didn’t recognize; were they old friends or classmates who’d changed that much, or spouses or partners or others who seemed familiar? I wondered about those who lived so close, who stayed in touch with so many and chose not to join the ranks of the excited, lonesome and curious, who came to see what they could see. I hoped for those who were "missing"; I remembered those who left too soon.
For each portly physique, receding hairline, chubby cheek, wrinkle, midlife crisis, rough time, or tale of woe, there was someone delightfully unchanged, someone who’d blossomed, someone who made time stand still. For every groan or sarcastic comment, there was a corresponding giggle or guffaw. Hard feelings faded. Circumstances gone awry held no significance. Memories of grade school and middle school surfaced. Reunion booklets were consulted. Phone numbers and hugs and promises to stay in touch were exchanged. Intentions were good. Would we really get together again, sooner rather than later?
I marveled over learning that classmates I'd been friends with were virtually unknown to others I'd palled around with. I was relieved to hear sad confessions of having been less than kind to others. I delighted in seeing everyone on equal footing: The tilted playing field of our youth had been leveled. Some us had been through many years together, on and off. (Perhaps we would henceforth be more "on.")
I always felt that particular reunion brought renewed perspective to many, and reflection and insight to many more. At least, I hope it did.
Written by: Amy L Charles is the editor of West Michigan Woman.