Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Class Reunion

Yes, you are right. I have been gone from the blog for a long time. I went to Idaho for my High School Class Reunion. Forty-fifth, since you asked. This is my nametag, with my Senior picture on it. Thank goodness for these nametags. I would not have known a lot of my classmates without them.

And those Native Americans who appear to be sniffing me? Our school mascot. Even now, the students at Pocatello High School (also known as Poky High) are known as the "Pocatello Indians". Don't blame me. I never liked the idea.

It is a strange concept, the High School reunion. To think that 3 years of one's life is so significant that everyone associated should gather every 5 or 10 years. Questionable. And yet, we do. But I find that the people I am most interested in seeing are those who I knew well before we got to High School.

This year's focus was definitely about age and who had died. In one corner of the room a powerpoint slide show played endlessly, showing the names and those old senior pictures of the members of our class who are gone. You'd be talking to a group, remembering something funny and suddenly someone would look up at the slide show and groan, "oh m-a-a-a-n—what happened to her?" Sad stories, one after another, as well as mysteries. We were so sad and puzzled by the suicide last summer of John G. our sweet, cute, successful classmate. His face would rotate up onto the screen and a pall would descend over the crowd. Beyond understanding.

I reconnected with Lea, my old Girl Scout buddy, from so many years ago. We went to camp together and sang harmony around the campfires. We had sleepovers at each other's houses and declared ourselves "best friends" many, many years ago. Our lives have taken different paths, but we were like fourth-grade buddies again the other night. She told me that after her husband died, suddenly and unexpectedly, seven years ago, she went on a mission for her adopted Mormon religion. She worked with African refugees and she simply radiated happiness as she talked about the experience. She is as warm and funny and generous now as she was as a child. And she is the grandmother of 25 grandchildren!

Some observations after 45 years:

  • Our generation was the first to recieve the polio vaccine, but there were a few who had polio before the vaccine. It was such a terrible disease and now we see those who had it as small children once again suffering terrible late life effects. If you never had to see friends afflicted with this disease, you are more fortunate than you probably realize.
  • The "Franklin Clique" (those cute girls who came to our High School from Franklin Jr. High, one of four in the city) were snooty then and are snooty now. Geez.
  • Our class president grew up to be an insufferable windbag.
  • The "smart guys" have aged a lot better than the "cool guys".
  • When you grow up in a Mormon community, your classmates are going to have an unbelievable number of grandchildren. (One I talked to has 51—no lie!)
  • I really am an introvert. Talking to all those people exhausted me.
  • The people you really want to see don't come to the reunions.
  • Despite everything, I'm glad I went.

13 comments:

  1. That slide show sounds like a terrible idea.
    Name tags with pictures are such a good idea. I had no idea who half of the people were at my reunion.

    Glad you are back.

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  2. The bitter side of aging: To be lonelier. And the remaining relatives and friends are more precious. On the other hand: Shouldn't it be possible to find new friends in a mature age? I believe so. And, if I look back: Would I make friends with my old classmates, if I first met them today? My answer is no.
    Ah, by the way: It's not so bad to be framed by good looking crowned guys.

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  3. Glad you're back!!! We missed you!!!

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  4. I love this posting! Your blog is always wonderful, but this one is extra special and so true! Thank you!

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  5. Well maybe I'll rethink going to my 50th next summer. I had almost decided not to go. Went to the 25th and had the same experience you did with the snooty ones. Fortunately I didn't care but did find too that the ones I really wanted to see again didn't come. Maybe this time.

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  6. Sounds like a memorable experience, and best of all one that allowed you to reconnect with your childhood friend! You'd better tell your son he'd better get to work if you're going to compete in the # of grandchildren -- or wait, maybe Sofia is worth 50 kids all by herself! Glad you had a good time!

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  7. I think I'll skip my 50th next year. It all sounds too familiar. There are one or two people I'd like to see, but I'm not even sure they would be there. I only was at that school and community for the 3 high school years, so it isn't surprising that the friendships were fairly short-lived. And, that those that went on longer may now be deceased.

    The description of the slide show gives me the willies -- and I'm pretty morbid, too.

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  8. Our last class reunion was the 40th. We have only had the decade ones up until now. We are having a 45th next year because so many of the class have died. It is kind of a hallow feeling when you expect to see someone and they are not there.

    On the cheery side, there have been a lot of connections with people we haven't seen or heard of since graduation that are making connections on Facebook.

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  9. "Me too" on some of the previous comments, but I have to tell you I LOLed at the native Americans who appear to be sniffing you.

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  10. My brother had a relatively mild case of polio. My parents were so relieved that he recovered, no iron lung as was often the case. However, he has been struggling with post-polio syndrome for years now, bitter that the "recovery" wasn't permanent.

    I'm with you - I'm an introvert and even good, happy contact with lots of people exhausts me.

    And yes, the reunions I've attended seem to always be missing those I'd most like to see again.

    Glad you found enough good in it to be glad you went!

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  11. It is funny to me that you mention the "Franklin Girls" because really, some things never change...at my high school the "Franklin Girls" were exactly as you describe them, 40 years later!

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