I wasn’t sure if I would recognize anyone at my 50th high school reunion last weekend. But when I got there, it was like walking into a time machine. Some people I recognized right away and I instinctively moved forward for a hug or a handshake. For others I had to squint at a name tag and try to connect the person in front of me with the person in my memory. Then, like a photo, they snapped into focus.
It’s been half a century since I’ve seen many of these people, and I wanted to reconnect with as many of them as I could. I felt like a reaper gathering a harvest of life stories. So this is how we turned out.
Among my classmates are an English professor, a farmer, a dermatologist, a lineman, several engineers and teachers, a college administrator, several pastors, a couple of bankers, a mechanic, a medical researcher. I was introduced to spouses, saw photos of grandchildren, heard about beginnings and endings. I sensed the arc of our lives coming to full circle.
In high school we were classmates. We teased each other, cheered for each other, agonized over homework together, dated each other, broke up, competed, envied, rebelled, conformed, and somehow became ourselves.
Then we graduated. We went our own ways and lived our lives.
It hasn’t all been roses. I heard a lot of pain in people’s stories. No one arrived at the reunion without some scars. We read the list of those who have died and held a short silence. Some have fallen.
Near the end of the weekend, I looked out at my classmates scattered in clumps among the empty glasses, dirty dishes and sagging tablecloths and thought, these are my brothers and sisters, mirrors of my own life, my unseen companions, ones who shaped me and formed me. And I thought how beautiful they all are, and how much I love them.
I remember basketball games when the walls of the gym reverberated as we stomped on the bleachers, screamed, cheered, jeered, hooted and whistled. We were one, bound together in the spirit of the moment.
In some ways, we still are.