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.