Monday, September 21, 2009

Reflections on a Reunion

A few of us remembered everyone. Everyone remembered at least a few of us. Some of us suspected a couple of us never even attended our school, and showed up here as alumni wannabes because our class, clearly, was All That.

Many of us looked markedly different. Several were easily recognizable. A few looked inconceivably young or just really damn good. We empathized and sympathized with the heavier, the grayer, the balding, because that was most of us. We tried not to hate those who looked better than we did.

Most of us appeared to have done reasonably well. Some accomplished great success in profitable or fascinating careers. A handful hadn't fared as well.

Eleven of us have died. Few of us were spared the loss of at least one close friend.

The multitude of us have lost one or even both parents. A number have parents who are ailing or impaired. All of us agreed we wished we'd appreciated them more.

The majority of us have grown, or nearly grown, children. Several of us are grandparents. Some are still raising small children, even younger than others' grandchildren. We who are empty-nesters nodded in recognition at each others' contradictory sentiments of relief and weepiness.

Several of us still live within blocks of our old high school. Many converged upon the Toledo suburbs. Others scattered to the coasts or to far-off places like Germany and Australia. Those of us who remained midwesterners were thankful to still have family and old friends nearby, but were envious of the others' adventurous lives.

Many of us made each other laugh with nostalgic high school tales. A handful prompted us to grow somber, through stories of the bumps in their life's journey. Some of us wished we were still back in high school. Others were grateful to have moved on.

Most of us who were wild and reckless teenagers have morphed into respectable and more conservative adults. A portion of us never made the transition. Nearly all of us still feel sixteen in our hearts.

Very few of us left early. Most stuck around until forced to leave. A good number of us continued the conversation and camaraderie at a nearby bar, disregarding the toll it would take the next day on our not-so-sixteen-year-old bodies.

And when the lights were turned out, and we walked across the parking lot to our cars, two things remained clear.

We had all changed. And we had all remained the same.