It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything; I was on vacation. I have a few thoughts lined up from the previous twelve days of visits in Oregon and California. I may, or may not write them down, depending on my mood this week.
It’s good to be back home. We saw dozens of old friends, ate far too much food, and I managed, mostly on airplanes, to read three novels. In a way, I wish I could have spent the entire vacation reading; then again, I don’t. As much as it unnerves me to say it, I need interaction with others.
I’m feeling neither witty nor excessively deep today.
Friday through Sunday (July 22-24) was my high school reunion. It’s been 25 years since I saw many of the 20-or-so people who showed up. We rolled in from LaPine about 20 minutes before the Friday evening pizza party, and I walked in to a room of people, none of whom had name tags, and very few whom I remembered. It quickly became evident that I was still the tallest one in my class. We visited awhile, as I struggled to put names to faces I hadn’t seen for a quarter-century. We spent an evening in a local tavern, and the next day about 10 miles inland, near a river bank, visiting and eating barbecued meats of many varieties.
I was a quiet person in high school. I didn’t have a large circle of friends, and my best efforts in high school were spent trying to hide myself from others. Our school, like all others, was rather cliquish. We had the popular kids, the nerds, the jocks, the stoners, the band and choir geeks, the rejects, and the out-of-towners (kids from Agness, Ophir, and Pistol River). Our life could be viewed as a constant shifting of social attentions to attain a higher status in this caste. There were only 70 graduates from the class of 1986. I’ve come to realize none of us fit within one group; many were members of several, and there possibly wasn’t a person in the entire school who believed themselves “popular”. All that straining for a pole position that didn’t exist. What a waste of young, fresh minds.
Maybe the popular, standoffish jock was simply shy or socially inept. Maybe we had no points of interaction. It’s easier (but not better) to ignore such a person than to forge a common path. Maybe that cheerleader was horribly self-conscious about her body. We thought she was beautiful and untouchable. She spent her nights throwing up her most recent meals to maintain a nonexistent status. Maybe the class clown was physically abused by his family, and used harsh, sarcastic humor to mask the pain. Maybe we all had more in common than we thought we did.
I spent most of the reunion pondering this. Who were these people? What did I miss, 30 years ago that made me marginalize and reject some, and hold others in such high esteem I couldn’t bring myself to talk in their presence? With some folks I just fell into a cadence that felt perfectly natural. We picked up where we left off, and it felt right. Others, we smiled of course, shook hands, and exchanged pleasantries, but there was still no point of connection. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing. I guess what I’ve learned after 25 years is I can’t possibly categorize or judge my classmates, or anyone else, anymore, at least not easily; and certainly not justifiably.
Just a few thoughts. I thank God for these folks. They made me who I am. We won’t ever all be best friends with each other. It’s just not possible–any more than it’s possible to marry every person you meet–some people are just less different than others. But it is possible to see past the surface, if you try hard enough, and respect them for success, or being a parent, or holding it together for 25 years. It’s the least we can do for them.