Attending my 35th High School Reunion
Last night I ventured into Manhattan to attend my 35th high school reunion. Without benefit of a for-profit company to run it, Emilia Roll took it upon herself to organize, plan, and execute the event. I was unavailable for the 20th and found the 30th overpriced, especially since the people I most wanted to see were not attending. Facebook, in the intervening five years, changed everything. All of a sudden I am reconnected to people dating back to kindergarten. There was a pent-up desire to see them in person once again.
Walking into the private room underneath a packed pub, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than Emilia. According to Facebook a mere 32 people confirmed being there but she assured me that her tally was 78, which was just under 20% of our graduating class. Not bad.
As people filed in and put on the name tags, I was surprised at how many I could recognize visually. Maybe a third. Another third required reading the name tag and suddenly matching face to name. The final third were just names to me. Once again, many of those I most wanted to see were not coming. Back in high school, my social circles included the theatre crowd, the school newspaper crowd and the geeks. Far too few from any of those three circles were present. As a result, every now and then, as conversational groups formed and dispersed, I was occasionally left standing by myself, bringing back lots of unwanted memories.
Some things never change. Those who barely talked to me in high school continued to ignore me. Some looked at my name tag, a glint of recognition in their eyes but they moved on. Others saw my name and even though we weren’t particularly close in school, gave me a tremendous hug.
There were those I shared classes with, many dating back to elementary school and that carried with it a special fondness. Old memories were dredged up and of course stories were swapped. I was reminded of one of my earliest crushes. Of course, most remembered me for the comics and continued to delight in the fact that my childhood passion gave me a professional most of my adult life. A few immediately associated me with Blue Oyster Cult since music meant more to them.
I was impressed at how many kept in touch with old friends through the years, more than I certainly do. One of our own continues to teach at Jericho High and many now live in what had been their parents’ homes. Some got gray, some got heavy. There were those who look far younger than our 52-53 years and others who have not aged well at all.
Interestingly, several discovered we had mutual friends apart from Jericho and one lives about five miles away in nearby Easton. One, who lived just off my block, I discovered went to SUNY-Binghamton and we had several friends in common including Jonathan Greenberg who would later hire me away from DC to work at Gist.com. He knew a ton of the Gist crowd which was like worlds colliding.
Cameras were flashing and no doubt Facebook will fill with pictures from the night. Everyone looked to be having a wonderful time and truth to tell, I’m glad I went. But by the time I had to leave for the train, I was done. Most said they were happy with their current lives be it because of their careers, second marriages, or children. It was a weird time warp, a chance to reflect on the past and see what became of the class of ‘76.