Monday, July 20, 2015

Familiar Faces -- Along With A Few We Had To Think About

“Do you remember the time…?” He asked.
“No," I replied, "that doesn’t ring a bell.  But surely you remember,” I continued.

“No,” he said with puzzlement in his voice. “I don’t recall.”

And so it went throughout the weekend, memories broadcast on different frequencies with occasional but blessed intersections, reassembling a composite narrative that depended on our respective scraps. We had gathered in our hometown for our 40th high school reunion – reconvened from all manner of far-flung locales and as near as the other side of town. For some it was a congregation of familiar and routine faces; for others of us it was a test of time and imagination to see who we could recognize. I had prepared – passing the flight time with my senior yearbook in my lap, flipping the pages and studying faces and marveling over the litany of names I had long-since forgotten.

I needn’t have bothered, though the silent reminiscences were warming. We all spent the evenings stealing furtive glances at the name tags emblazoned with our names and 40-years younger faces. We were all in the same boat and half the fun was identification. For some it was no challenge at all – as if time had frozen and they were just stepping out of the gym from the pep rally. Others required more scrutiny and veiled disbelief. Time, we have always known, doesn’t handle us with an equal hand but sometimes the truth of it can be startling; time and, of course, experience. Some of our roads along the miles since moving our tassels have been pot-holed and twisting while others have been scenic and smooth. Griefs have etched more than a few faces. Disappointments and dicier choices had left their marks as well. We asked about parents and children and more than a few grandchildren. We wondered about those who were missing, and grieved those who will never be with us again. We remembered teachers (reconnecting with a couple of treasured ones) and milestones and mischiefs and moments; we traced the lines of social boundaries to which we once adhered, and opted to step over more than a few. We scanned the room for loves lost and won, and we caught up with stories written since.

But mostly we willingly and warmly offered ourselves again into each other’s keeping, giving thanks through the stories and hours and appetizers and blaring songs of the DJ for that magically formative season 40 years ago and more that first introduced us to each other in the hallways and classrooms and extra-curriculars of Cooper High School and forged us into the “Class of ’75”.

In case I didn’t say it often enough, or loud enough for all to hear, it was good to see you. It was, to be more fully transparent, a joy. You folks have been some of the most important people of my life, and I am grateful – for the times back then and the hours this weekend. No telling how smart and good looking and totally recognizable we’ll all be at our 50th.

Stay well.

Keep in touch.