Oh, there’s something so leveling about gathering together a bunch of people who’ve known each other over the years, who’ve known each other since they were small children.
No matter who you are now, you were once a little kid with crazy hair, funny teeth, odd clothing. You were that kid. And somewhere deep inside of you, you still have a bit of that kid hiding there.
I spent the evening with friends new and old last night. Some I’ve known since 2nd grade, 4th grade, high school, and even one I’ve known for just a few years. We’re still the same kids we used to be, but we’ve also changed a great deal.
What changed? Me. I did. We all did. It was amazing. Nobody cared if someone was rich, poor, dressed to the nines or just hanging out in jeans or shorts or whatever. The boys and girls that we used to be were accepted for who we are, who we were, and for just being there. I looked around at so many familiar faces and I saw people who understand what it means to be parents and who get what it means to be adults. We’ve all made it this far in life and you know, we’re all survivors in our own way. The beautiful boys and girls we were (though we’d never had said or thought that what we were) still exist in all of us. There are hopes and dreams, fears, desires…we’ve come so far, lost much, moved on, or we haven’t. And you know, it’s okay. We made it this far.
I did encounter someone who has challenged me in the past. As I was leaving the neighborhood bar (where we ended up after the reunion), a mutual friend asked if there wasn’t a way we couldn’t move on from what this other person said happened. It didn’t happen as she said. But you know what? That’s okay. She has her view and her own sense of the past and I’m not going to spend precious energy on worrying about her or what she remembers. I’ve done far too much of that already. We’ll never see eye to eye. She’s created her own version of the past and I will never be able to trump that or what she recalls. I just…don’t…care. I don’t wish her ill. I just wish to move on.
I still can’t believe that there are people who exist, people I met 36 years ago, who recall what I was like and yet are willing to talk with me. My goodness, it just doesn’t seem possible. But it is. We’ve changed so very much. Oddly, there are more things that are similar in our lives anymore…I just had to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
The other funny thing was one woman…she was my first friend in California. Lisa. I’m ready to about burst into tears as I think of her (okay, a few tears fell just now). She had such kind and loving memories of me, my family…and I of her and her family. Yet, neither of us recall our own families in the manner the other remembers. Her dad worked for one airline as a pilot. My dad worked for another airline as ground crew/fleet maintenance. Yet, we lived three or four houses apart and we were such good friends once upon a time. Today, she lives in another country. She’s successful. She’s gorgeous. She’s loving and kind and possesses grace that I can only hope to someday achieve. But, to hear her talk…I dunno. It’s just weird to see my family and myself through someone else’s eyes after all this time and to be considered a peer of someone who is so amazingly put together.
It all comes back to feeling like we’ve all found our own place in the world, for ill or for good. We’ve all managed to get here and will no doubt attempt to make it to the next milestone with some dignity and grace.
To all those who have been young once (and that’s everyone, right?), just remember this: there will always be a bit of that child who will surface from time to time and who will revel in the simple joy of being around those who can remember that person you were while enjoying the person you’ve become. We don’t have to be rich or famous or anything else…we just need to be and we need to accept that there is something amazing about each one of us.
Forgive me my overly sentimental moment here, but I love you, Class of ’84. Thank you for your friendship and your many memories. Thank you for the joy and laughter you’ve brought to my life.
And for all those lovely dates, spouses, and friends who attended the reunion? Y’all were the best! Thanks for putting up with us, our terrible photos, our crazy chatter, for our odd disappearances, and for just liking us enough to be a part of the whole event.