… good. And strange? And funny? And weird? And probably a few other things I can’t quite put the right word to at the moment.
Yesterday brought around the 30th reunion for my high school class (that’d be 1984 for those who prefer not to do math in their spare time), for some of us I’m pretty sure the first time we’d been in the same room since somewhere before the final week of school in June that year.
In & of itself that feels kind of notable. I mean, if you stop and think even a minute about the twists and turns and highlights and lowlights and sidetrips life has taken any of us on in three decades, how on Earth do you end up back in roughly the same spot where, in some respects, your adult life began?
Okay, not exactly the same spot, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who grew up in that (relatively) small town in north Georgia who is still trying to get their heads completely around the fact that there is now a venue that can (legally) serve alcohol AND has live music. Sure, there has been something like that around the area for a lot of years now but for us teens of the 80s it can still be pretty mindboggling to even contemplate.
No, we didn’t all recognize each other on sight, but my impression was that overall we not only did a pretty good job of it but also did a lot better with than a some of us feared we might. Nametags? We don’ need no stinkin’ name tags. We did it the old-fashioned way: we stared and we looked and we guessed and then we whispered a question into the ears of people we figured might be sharper than ourselves. Call me crazy but I think that was actually kind of fun in its own right.
In good conscience I can’t go any further into this without saying something about our respective “+1” companions for the night. Sure, like any class we’ve got some LTRs that started “back in the day” but last night’s attendees included a pretty fair share of people who had never met more than a few people in the room and quite a few who had previously met exactly zero. Yet across the board, the “plus ones” I was introduced to were gracious, likable, incredibly amazingly patient, real true troopers in a situation that isn’t exactly the easiest one to handle sometimes. Quite a few of us likely owe those spouses & significant others a quid pro quo at some point, and we’d do well to try to treat them as well as they treated us.
While giving them their due, I kind of feel like we alums deserve to toot our own horns a little bit too. I figure nearly everybody reading this remembers high school, remembers how it could be.
I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t always the most harmonious time. Yet last night I saw an awful lot of conversations that wouldn’t have taken place 30 years ago. Cliques — and yes friends, you know we had ’em, just like everybody else — pretty much melted away. Bad memories? It felt to me as though everybody pretty much left those at home, or at least put them in the trunk & left them outside before coming in. Baggage? Who needs it? I didn’t see much in the way of anybody faking anything or trying to just get through the evening either, instead I saw a lot of smiles and laughs and hugs and backslaps and handshakes.
Having ended up pretty heavily involved over the past few months of trying to find and invite everyone, turnout definitely was something I was interested in seeing. Honestly, for all my minute detail nature that came out during that process, I still haven’t sat down and tried to come up with any sort of “official” count. I’m sure I will sometime this week, that’s just my nature, but even just eyeballing the room upon arrival I felt like we had easily met our own expectations and by the time the night was over I’m absolutely certain we exceeded them by a good bit. I won’t claim, nor even be particularly willing to accept, a bit of credit for that but I will say it was pretty gratifying to see the response the efforts of all those involved in that element managed to get.
I also want to say just a little something about those who didn’t attend for one reason or another. I don’t think anybody who has reached our, umm, “years of experience” doesn’t know how reality can interfere with the best plans and intentions. Off-hand I know of several people who were attending out-of-town events with their own kids yesterday, others who had business travel, other pressing personal matters, the whole gamut of things that were legitimately higher priorities. I’ve got no problem with that at all, I wish you could have been part of last night, I hope you’re part of the next one. And the same goes for those who decided that “eh, I think I’ll pass”, if we do it again, reconsider. I’d just about guarantee that the vast majority of those who were there went home happy they came, odds are in favor of you feeling the same way if you decide to give it a try someday.
I also want to single out another sub-group that was a great part of things for me personally last night: those who weren’t technically members of the Class of ’84 but went out of their way to make an appearance anyway. We were a small school by most people’s standards and a school that was a five-year range to boot (we were grades 8-12 in our day). Classes mixed & mingled quite a bit, and those who were there when we were there — ahead of us or behind us — were a huge part of all our high school experience. To have those folks who came be part of the evening felt very much right and appropriate as far as I’m concerned.
If you know me, you know I tend to (over)think things through quite a bit. I’ll admit to spending probably an undue amount of time wondering and guessing and anticipating and fretting and generally worrying about this reunion as it approached. If you know me really well you can probably guess how many times I argued with myself about going at all. And if you know that stuff then it’s no surprise that more than 24 hours later I’m still sort of … processing the evening. That means that my thoughts really aren’t as organized as I’d like them to be so as I try to wrap this up there are some things I want to at least throw in somewhere before I starting let go of it.
— Tip of the cap to Rocco’s for hosting and to both bands who entertained us with solid performances
— Yep, we’re older than we used to be. Yep, time and gravity and mileage were not exactly gentle to some of us, but I’d say we’re still pretty respectable all things considered and we clean up fairly well. And to those inevitable few who seem to have figured out how to defy age & time, it’s a damned good thing you were some of the nicest people in the room, otherwise some of us might be tempted to hold a grudge 😉
— Yeah, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for some of the post-game analysis that took place in the cars on the way home. And if you’re really honest, I bet you would too.
— There were some moments last night that it’s not overstating to say I’ll probably remember the rest of my life. I wish all of us had been the people we are today a lot sooner … but that ain’t how it works. I’m going to do my best to be glad that we’re those people now instead of worrying about when we weren’t. Might not be able to avoid (over)analyzing how we got there but I’ll try to avoid annoying anybody else with that.
To the relief of everyone in the room last night, we didn’t ever get around to singing the alma mater (at least not by the time I left, several hours after the “official” ending time) but I’d just about swear I’m not the only person who heard it in their head a few times this weekend.
Pickens High, our Alma Mater
Deep in our hearts we’ll hold
Love and loyalty we’ll give thee
Green and White of Old.
A good night, my thanks to you all for making it so, we really oughta do this again sometime.