Today, after 5 days away from work, I headed back to the 8-hour grind. Strange as it may sound to you, I’m so very glad that I’m back to work. That’s because the past couple of days were really, really rotten for me. Oh, it wasn’t due to a familial or personal situation, though it was something related to my writing talents and to my status as a… uh, well, if you read my bio to the right of your screen, you’ll notice that there’s something different to it. I won’t get into the details about why that’s the case on this blog just yet, at least until I’m all cheered up and willing to broach the topic.
Instead, I want to share some thoughts about something much, much nicer that happened to me during the three days prior to the past two. Last Friday, I drove up to my old home town in… let’s just say Northern Wisconsin for a 30-year reunion of my high school graduating class. How was it, you’re asking? Well, it was a rather modest affair. No, I don’t mean it was staid and sedated. Try more like a quickly-assembled affair. From how I understand it, were some classmates who would’ve loved to assemble a grand (or somewhat grand) to-do for our Class of ’87, including those who’ve organized our previous reunions. Unfortunately, it appears that they were unable to do so this year for whatever reason.
So, planning the reunion fell on another of our classmates, one who lives in the immediate area and had enough esprit de corps to pull things off. He exclusively used online platforms and word of mouth to pass along information about the reunion. My attendance is a result of the latter, with my sister (who was one grade lower than I) learning about the reunion through an invite on… let’s just say a certain social media platform I’ve yet to talk up on here. Sis passed it along to me, I said “yes, I will attend” to the RSVP, and made the over-3-hour drive to our home town last Friday.
An unfortunate drawback to the short notice and online aspect of the reunion planning: Not every classmate was able to attend the reunion last weekend. In fact, only a handful of classmates did attend, resulting in the modest affair I alluded to above. That’s not to say the light attendance made it any less fun. The organizing classmate — who should be proud of the effort he put into organizing (I told him as such) — offered a DJ, who had a live musician perform beforehand (she was a nice singer and an even better guitarist). There were some games, including a quiz on 1987 trivia. And above everything else, there was reverence offered to those who couldn’t make it… including, sadly, the four classmates who are no longer with us.
While, yes, we didn’t get to see every classmate at the reunion, catching up with those who were able to attend made up for it. That’s what I also mentioned to the classmate who organized the event: Having fun is one thing, but asking “How have you been?” to classmates is even better. With that, I want to highlight catching up with one class whom I hadn’t seen since our 10-year reunion two decades ago. I had… well, not so much of a crush on this girl when we were in school, so much as I had a fondness for her: She had great hair, great clothes, and a pretty nice personality back then. No, I was too bashful and shy to ask her out or even say hello to her very much in our school days.
I got to see her, last Friday night for the first time in 20 years… and, boy, is she as personable as she was the last time I saw her in 1997. But we did get to see each other at our 5- and 10-year reunions. It was at the latter when I took a picture of her and her then 3-year-old son…
(Okay, the reason for the ellipsis right there is that I want to interject a side note: I’ve made mention before that I’m a little bit of a shutterbug. No, I’m not quite the type who’d take pictures of everything I come across. But, I do take lots of pictures during the more significant moments of my life. That includes class reunions. It’s twofold: To share with memories with others if they’d like a memento of the moment/event. And, for me to hang onto in case my memory starts to fade. Okay, side note is over with.)
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah… just as the 10-year reunion was wrapping up and everyone was heading their separate ways for the next 5 years, I took a picture of my classmate and, cradling him and wrapping him around her arms, her then 3-year-old son. When I developed the film a couple of weeks later, I was glad that I captured that moment: Mother was acknowledging the camera; son was… well, he was looking pretty tired (well, an active day at the park can make an active kid pretty exhausted). And both were posed perfectly. It was such a great picture that I had it enlarged (from 3×4) and sent it off to her along with a card that Christmas. (Back then, each classmate received “where are we now?” synopses at the reunion, which included mailing addresses.)
Did I expect my classmate to send a card back to me? No, of course not… and, no, I didn’t receive one back. But I didn’t expect to receive what she sent me last Friday: When I got the chance to talk to her, she mentioned that she noticed me snapping a few pictures of the others in attendance with my phone. And it reminded her of that 20-year photo of her and her son I had sent her. She said she still has it in her possession, framed and sitting on a shelf in her home somewhere. And she still loves and is still impressed by that photo. Hearing her compliment made my evening and my entire weekend. The lesson here is that never forget the good things you do for someone… for it’s likely that they will remember what you’ve done and give you their gratitude, even if it’s 20 years after the fact.
Oh, for the record: My classmate is married, living outside of Denver, has a fruitful job as a grade school teacher… and is pretty progressive in her beliefs. Which tempted me for just a brief second to tell here that… yeah, I’m pretty progressive, too, and I have a female persona. But we both knew it was a night for catching up and leaving politics at the barroom door. Oh, her son is all grown up and sounds as if he’s got a good head on his shoulders, living and working some side jobs in Boulder while mentally planning for the big thing in his life.
So, yeah, while it was a relatively modest class reunion, I’m glad to have had the chance to attend. If you feel you’re on good terms with your old high school classmates… and if you have a spot on your schedule to do so… don’t hesitate to say “yes, I’ll be attending” to that RSVP. If you don’t go, you’ll never realize how much of an impression you made in the past and will be making in the present on those you knew back then.