Destination: Harrison, New York, October 11 – 17, 2011, Part 2, High School Reunion

Now on the second leg of my trip across the States back to San Francisco, I have a few hours to do some debriefing about the reunion weekend.

What just happened?

The short answer is I had a hell of a good time.  Shockingly so.

There were activities throughout the weekend and my reunion festivities started on Friday night when me, Cathy, and Lisa met for dinner with two other ol’ pals, Joy and Diane.  The five of us and a handful of others used to pal around throughout high school and go to and host lots of parties together.    My god, it was fun to see them.   We were thrown back to our high school antics, when at the restaurant which was filled with geriatric dancing seniors, we asked and were allowed to move to a more ‘quieter’ table and nearly burst out into tears when the owner/manager made us take our napkins with us as we switched tables.  What, you couldn’t wash the extra napkins?   Two hours flew by in an instant as we bantered about and caught up on the gossip.    Here we are then and now:

We then descended next door to Uncle Henrys bar where we caught up with about 30 of our classmates.  Oh my gosh, I hardly recognized some of the guys.  But once I was reminded of their names and I could recall their faces, I could still see their boyish features now disguised as men.  And yeah, most have lost their hair, so they looked a little different from their wavy-locked looks of the70’s.    That’s what happens when you’re almost fifty.

The women, on the other hand, were easy to recognize.   We don’t seem to age as much as we’re fortunate to have culturally accepted died hair.  Our thing is the big M – menopause —  and we shared a whole lot of laughs as we talked about the sweating and the change.   So I don’t know which gender has it worse and I guess it’s all just part of life.

I was nervous about coming and attending the reunion but some older friends of mine said that it would likely be fun because at this age, the pretenses are all gone, we are who we are, we’re in or out of our careers, we’re married, divorced, single, whatever.  We could be comfortable in our skins and just let it all hang out.

And that’s exactly what it was like.

Saturday evening’s event was held at fellow classmate Kevin’s wedding banquet hall and motel in Hopewell Junction, NY, about an hour north of Harrison.   Another fellow classmate, Ralph, who owns a bus transportation company, offered to drive a bus load of attendees to/from the reunion.   I elected to drive myself and spend the night at the motel.

The party started at 7 pm and it kicked off with a bang.   As soon as one walked through the doors, one was transported back in time.   Every time I turned around, I was saying ‘Oh my god, there’s so and so.’   Everyone was in such good form, so chatty and full of life.     And certainly the open bar and home-made skull-and-cross-bones vodka punch helped loosen the tongues.

I had so many fine conversations with people, I barely sat for any length of time.  Two of our teachers were there – Mr. Taischoff, one of our math teachers;  and Mrs. O’Donnell, one of our English teachers.    How magnificent that they could come.

At our age, life’s happening, full steam ahead, both good and bad.  I heard stories about how bitterly expensive it is to live here with exorbitant tax rates, high food prices, gas prices, and healthcare costs, just high everything.    Those with kids seem to be never-ending taxi drivers, carting kids from one function to another.  Some had kids as old as 26 right on down to one with a bun in the oven!   Many of us are caring for or dealing with aged parents or have recently lost their parents.   Divorces, marriages, births, deaths, sickness, health — it all comes full circle round.   That is the duality of life.

People have had all sorts of careers too, both blue collar and white collar – airline pilots, engineers, financial planners, recruiters, gardening businesses, flooring businesses, dental hygienists, paralegals, moms galore, book-keepers, accountants, executives, teachers, artists, dancers, photographers, private investigators, the whole nine yards.  It was just amazing to share and listen and laugh and take lots of photos!

Our graduating class was about 325 students and judging from the group photo, I’d say about 80 of us were there (with spouses, we were about 110).   That’s a pretty good turn-out.   Of course, I could not talk to everyone, and I was quite shocked when in the midst of a good conversation, the lights came on and it was time for the night to end.  Where did those five hours go?

There was so much more I wanted to know.  Were you happy?  Did you achieve what you wanted to in life?  What’s left on your bucket list?   Hopefully I won’t have to wait another 10 years to find out.   Let’s stay in touch.

The reunion committee,  Jackie, Wendy, Kevin, John, Carey, Ralph, and Pete deserve special thanks as they did a truly exceptional job.  They worked so hard to put together such a fine weekend.

Will I return for my 40th?   I think it is highly likely!