When we graduated in 1970 we were 98 perfect people — perfect strangers, that is. There were the jocks, the chick clique, the hoods, the nerds, and the rest of us, just average kids with no claim to fame. At our 10-year reunion, the topic of discussion for many was how drunk they had gotten the night before. By the 20th, it had become a game of one-upmanship; who had made (or lost) the most money. After the 30-year mark, our classmates were becoming individuals instead of being labeled as a member of some group.
In 2001, I had the privilege of dining with an over the road truck driver, a Harley Davidson owner and rider, and an electrical engineer — and these are just some of my female classmates. Our valedictorian, previously known as a nerd, is the motorcycle mamma and the other two dropped out before our senior year. That had been the last we knew of them until 2001. Obviously education later became important to these former classmates.
What do we have in common? Love. Of life, of reading, of family and friends, and now, classmates. We no longer talk about drinking nor money. Success is being measured in more personal ways. Are you happy, enjoying life? We are all survivors. Some from bad marriages that started too young, some from deaths of parents and other loved ones, even one from a direct-hit tornado. We all view life as a gift now, instead of a given. We lost our first classmate, one of the chick clique, in 1998. Before that we had felt almost smug that we were all alive. Several more have passed away since then. We are beginning to feel mortal. One that we lost this year had been a tremendous disc jockey even in high school. But few of us told him how we admired his talents. Because when the boy-girl stuff was often misconstrued, we girls didn’t tell him how much we appreciated his voice and skills. Boys just didn’t think about it. We didn’t hear from him after graduation, assumed that he had gone on to bigger and better things. Only upon his death we learned he had been living 60 miles away, and was still a JD. He used an on-air name and though many of us had heard him, none of us had a clue he was our admired classmate. Now he is dead and we can’t give him our appreciation.
It’s interesting to note how far the pendulum has swung from bragging about accomplishments to being modest. Classmates who have earned Ph.Ds. don’t mention it. In fact, we only found out about one of the degrees by searching the classmate’s name on Google — he didn’t put it on his nametag.
When you have opportunity to attend a class reunion, I hope you will; if nothing else, nostalgia is good for the soul. ❖