This weekend should be an interesting one. I am returning to my home town (just outside Nashville, TN) for my 20 year High School Reunion.
A full slate of activities has been planned. A Friday night football game – the season opener for my old Bruins, Go Big Blue! – a picnic Saturday afternoon and the more traditional reunion dinner event Saturday evening. Clearly a great deal of planning has gone into the event and my hat’s off to those leading that effort.
However, as the event draws near I find myself experiencing a strange brew of thoughts:
Anticipation – Life happens, it pulls us in so many directions we didn’t even know existed back when we were in High School… back when we had it all figured out. And so with rare and random exception I’ve not been in contact with many of my former friends and classmates. My recent dabblings with Facebook has facilitated a few reconnections and has sparked a latent interest in catching up with some of these folks.
Trepidation – Life moves forward for a reason, and while looking back can be fun from time to time, a forced immersion in the past might prove dicey. Now I was neither bully nor foil so I’m not worried for an intervention-like moment but human nature – our brain’s wiring – is designed to view historical events in a positive light. For example, I now look back at one of my worst work experiences as one of my best despite the grueling 18 hour days, cross country travel, and merciless she-devil boss. Need another example? Consider any woman with more than 1 child….think about it, pain is forgot and good times magnified.
So with that backdrop, what if my perfectly constructed mental packaging of that era is disrupted? It would certainly not be life altering for that to happen and it could even be positive, but it begs an annoying “what if”?
Mortality – Who’s kidding who? 20 years IS a long time and the years spanning high school graduation and “near 40” surely contain their share of life defining moments. In more ways than one, it marks a sort of halfway point… Perfectly framed mental images of my youth are about to be replaced with their modern day lumpy, balding, graying, wrinkled, and aged proxies. Some images may be no worse for the wear while others may reflect roughly the mileage. When faced with the most honest of yard sticks, a mixed collection of former peers, how will I stack up at this stage of the journey?
Fortunate – That I am able to participate in this event is itself a blessing. Sure, I have a good job that affords me the free time and cash required for the trip, but it is so much more than that. I am aware of 5 former classmates who are no longer with us. We lost one within days of graduation and two more within a year or so. Two others have been lost in the years between to causes currently unknown to me. Yes, that I am able to make and act upon a willful decision is indeed a blessing, and I pray that our current count is limited to only those five.
Eager – I am genuinely excited and very much looking forward to the experience. Messages circulated in recent days exude an air of camaraderie and a real spirit of reunion. A friend from 20 years ago picked up the phone and called me just today (Thursday as I write this) to invite me to his home for a pre-game grill out. A simple gesture, sure, but a significant one as well. I have found that it is often the big ‘little things’ that make life special, and I suspect there will be more than one on this weekend.
In the end, I’m excited about reconnecting with these old faces from my past. Perhaps it is only for a weekend or perhaps renewed seeds of past friendships with sprout anew but in either case – for this moment – I’m looking forward to looking backwards.
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