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On The Hornets of '61 Homecoming Parade Float, September 2011

What was it like?  Was it still Them and Us (the cool kids and the fringe-dwellers)?  How many people did I recognise? Did anyone remember me?  Did I win the prize for traveling the farthest?  These are the questions you (and I) have been waiting with bated breath to have answered.  Well, friends, I now have the answers to those  questions.

So, what was it like?  Well, it was fun, interesting, surprising, amusing, embarrassing, and generally satisfying.  Time–and age–are great levellers.  I should mention that I may not be the best witness to report on some of these issues; it turned out that the apparently exotic fact of my coming “all the way from Tasmania” bestowed on me a cachet that I never had in high school.  Had I travelled only fifty miles  to attend the event, would my impressions have been the same?  I honestly don’t know.  I hope so.

Anyway, fun is fun–I needn’t elaborate on that.  ‘Interesting,’ though, is many things. I found many of the people had not changed much at all.  Others had.  The people who seemed to have “changed” may simply have been older (duh) and their character no longer cloaked in teenage angst and misery.  I particularly enjoyed catching up with some of my early school mates who matured into comfortable, confident, charming individuals.  The very fact that people choose to attend a reunion like this says to me that they are at mostly contented and happy in their own skin, regardless of how they felt in high school.

Among the people who seemed not to have changed much at all were some of the “cool kids,” the movers and shakers of our year.  Their popularity made them visible to the rest of us in a way we were not.  It would be fair to say, they were also achievers at that time.  Whether or not success in sports or cheerleading were/are real measures of achievement, the fact is some of them also were achievers in ways that do matter.  So it is hardly surprising that they are still achievers.  And, of course, they were the ones who would be anointed ‘reunion organisers.’  I guess that brings us to the question about “Them and Us.”  Yes, it was still there, but without the teenage angst.  The ‘popularity barrier’ had been breached, and  I believe the key is the blossoming of “Us” through the subsequent years rather than any change in “Them.”

Did I recognise many people?  Well, here’s where the surprise element comes in.  And the amusement, shock, and even embarrassment.  I certainly recognised some people.  Annoyingly, some of them had changed so little they couldn’t possibly be 67 or 8. But just because they still resembled their yearbook photo, it didn’t help much with the name!  Other people bore no resemblance whatsoever to their yearbook photo.  Name tags saved the embarrassment of having to ask people who they were.  Because of the Tasmania connection, and mention of The Meandering Matriarch, a number of people came up and introduced themselves.  Not that they actually remembered me, but they had heard of me.  I guess the lesson here is, if you are thinking of going to a reunion but fear being unrecognised, you might want to make a point of coming from somewhere that sounds exotic.  If that doesn’t work for you, just rest assured that everyone else is in the same boat as you.  Saying “Y our face is familiar, but I don’t remember your name,” is a good ice breaker.  Especially when it turns out to be one of your best friends.  The fact is, people you haven’t seen for fifty years–and who haven’t seen you for that long–don’t get upset when you don’t recognise them.  I know I didn’t really mind when people said to me, “I don’t remember you.”

I met a number of people who I didn’t remember, and who didn’t remember me, but we really connected and hope to keep in contact. We’re never too old to make new friends!  And with the internet, distance is no longer an impediment.  What better place than a school reunion to meet people who not only are your age, but they share a bit of your history.  Hot dog!

I thought the reunion was well organised. There was plenty of opportunity for classmates to catch up, including some free activities as well as the more expensive dinner.  Having more than one bite of the cherry not only meant more chances to meet up with people, but also more opportunity to reinforce new connections.  It worked well.  I’m glad I went, and I think most of the people who attended would have felt the same.  I can’t speak for others, but I do know that there is a push to move the next reunion forward to 2013, to celebrate the year we all turn 70.  Not a bad idea!  I hope I can attend that one too.

And I got the feeling that I wasn’t the only one who prefers wrinkles to pimples…       MM

PS:  I did win the prize for travelling farthest, given I wasn’t pipped at the post by a penguin…