It’s an important milestone in American movies and television shows, the high school reunion. My wife and I, who were high school classmates, went to our 25th reunion on Saturday. We had a great time. One of the funny things about our being married is that we had almost no friends in common back then, and we never really knew one another. So now that we are married, our classmates have a hard time connecting the dots. We don’t naturally fit together in the experience of most of them.
Still, it’s really nice to go back with someone who knows the school and the class as well as knowing you. We met some other very nice spouses, who brave the nostalgia, the in jokes, the reminiscences. They were all really good sports.
Contrary to what movies lead you to expect about reunions, ours was very low key. There are some very high-powered successes in the class, accomplished business people, artists, television personalities, but this group continues to treat the rest of us, mere mortals, as valued friends. Our class was never much about money–we were at a boarding school with small dorm rooms and no dress code,–so it was actually kind of hard to tell who was wealthy then. Now you can tell from the size of gifts to the annual fund, but people don’t throw it in your face.
Mainly it was a treat to be in the company of people who were my friends during an important stage of my life. We were the witnesses to one another’s dreams and ambitions and achievements. In an era at the school marked by very little faculty involvement outside the classroom, we raised ourselves and applauded one another.
The most meaningful part of our graduation ceremony 25 years ago was the actual handing out of diplomas. By school tradition, the Head of School stood at the top of a circle, which consisted only of the class. The dean handed him diplomas, he read the name, and the circle of students passed it around until it reached its recipient. We all stood witness to one another.
It was lovely to do so again, even for a day. To see the new children, the old smiles behind slightly wrinkled faces, to hear what our old friends think about, are proud of, worry about.
To remember who they were and who we were in their presence.