I'm not sure if people didn't make the effort to come to the reunion, or whether they actually chose NOT to go. There are many reasons to stay away from a high school reunion. Very few of us came out of high school with plans to get divorced. Very few planned to get stuck in dead-end, uninteresting or unfulfilling jobs. Very few expected to have problem children, or burdensome parents or other relatives, either. None of us planned to have debilitating accidents, or irreparably damage our knees, or have our hair thin and fall out, or get pudgy and wrinkly and grey and generally look, well, like our parents.
But almost all of us had some of these things happen.
Yes, some of us have done well and some have had great successes, but most of us (as Will Rogers so eloquently put it) have to remain on the sidelines and wave as the parade goes by. I never would have suspected that so few people would choose not to turn up for a chance to say hello to old friends.
I'm very proud that one of the groups that I was involved in at school - the Outdoor Recreation Club, or ORCs - planned our own little party, independent of the $85/plate stand-up-and-eat-finger-food school-organized banquet. The ORCs (at least a core group of them) have kept in touch over the years and have watched each other get married, raise kids, have successes and failures and gracefully and not-so-gracefully grow older in big, four-year-apart steps. For the most part, personalities have unfolded as I expected they would. The shy ones of our group have stayed close to home, fallen into mediocre jobs, go on to live their parents' lives and done predictable things. Others have traveled, tasted and experienced things no one could have predicted and had amazing adventures. Some of the amazing feats my little group of a dozen friends have accomplished are:
- climbed the second-highest mountain in the world
- worked on five continents
- sailed across the Atlantic
- gone to live above the arctic circle and other non-English-speaking places
- had a copyrighted work published
- taken a year off work to travel (a few of them have done this)
- learned to ski jump
- learned to skydive (again, a few have done this)
- divorced and remarried - sometimes in different continents, sometimes in different languages
- become doctors, engineers, teachers, social workers
- ran for public office
- had (collectively) eleven kids
... and those are just some of the things that I know of. I know that we've all had some disappointments, but I think (as a group) we have much to be proud of. We've all turned out to be nice people and we have all remained good friends. Getting back together for an afternoon, we all were able to see in each other the things that made us friends all that time ago.