Sunday, June 28, 2015

Here's Looking at You, Kid : )

       Yesterday I attended a 50 year reunion of my high school class.  Before I left I sent a pic to my daughter, she wanted to see what I was wearing.  She told me, kindly, that I looked beautiful.  I told her that I felt old.  She reminded me I was going to be with my contemporaries.  I chuckled.  I had attended reunions in the past and found them mixed, but always I was glad that I went.  This one was no exception.  The setting, at a Country Club, was an immediate reminder of the difference in the financial holdings of the parents who sent us to this girls high school, and the difference that no doubt still existed.  The subcontext, success is measured in money.  I don't think this a conscious choice, perhaps even a sharing of the privilege of money, and yet, I wondered. 
      As I reconnected with the women, some of whom I hadn't seen literally in 50 years, I asked about their lives, listened to their stories, and encouraged them to record their lives in story.  This is my current passion.  Everyone has a story and it is the stories that reunite us.  But what stories, in 3 hours, could serve to make us a cohesive group?  Initially, our high school stories.  What fun it would have been to remember our teachers and those awkward adolescents that we were.  That is our foundation.  What little we knew about each other then, too focused on our own insecurities. Yet this lack of knowledge of ourselves and others bonded us, imprinting us in some life-long commitment way. 
     I somehow hoped that when I returned to this group these 50 years later that we could once again quickly find that comraderie that went beyond the type of cars we drove or where we lived or the traveling we had done.  And in some moments, especially when we watched the tribute to the 15 women who were not able to attend our celebration because death had claimed them, the comraderie entered and swirled around us, and we were back to the basics.  No longer the awkward adolescents, women of some accomplishment, women of our own power.  Interesting women who, given more time to separate from the cliques of the past, the comfort of sitting around a specific table, might have seen a way both to relive those years and to move into extended conversations regarding who we are today--not what we have achieved or where we live.   For who we are today includes that part of us who is the awkward adolescent, who questions ourselves, who wonders what is important in life to focus on, who knows that it is not what is on the surface that matters most, it is matters of the mind, matters of the heart, matters of the soul. 
    The introductory question most asked of me was, "where do you live now?".  I found that an interesting entry into conversation.  Not, what do you do, or even, how are you, but where I live, as if that will tell the most.  It won't.  I had few more in depth conversations, save one about writing, and one about the incredible events of the week past and a brief discussion of the politics of the future.  Each ended too quickly before back to "where do you live now?".  People stayed within their comfort zones, and some of the zones were narrow. 
    Life, I think, is about accepting all the parts of us that blend into the who we are today.  When we learn about others, we learn about ourselves if we take the time to ponder.  Tell me your stories, I will tell you mine, and we will meet in the common ground of our humanity. 

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