I had a great weekend. And by “great,” I mean “Why do I get to know such groovetastic people, and then have so many of them in one place at one time?”
There are a few times in a person’s life when she gets to do the thing called “High School Class Reunion.” And I’m one of those sentimental, heart-on-her-sleeve kind of folk who starts looking forward to the next reunion before the last one is over, so I had been anticipating this 20-year reunion for 10 years (and now I have 10 more years to grin goofily to myself every time I think of seeing my classmates again). I’m sure therapists have a name for the affection (or, alternatively, the distain) one feels for the non-family people with whom one spends 6 hours a day, 180 days a year, for nearly all of one’s formative years. These are people who, through accident of being born within the same calendar year and residing within a particular geographical area, raise and shape each other by performing the range of human social interaction models in all their bewildering varieties, including kindness, cattiness, generosity, grudges, friendship, forgiveness, romance, rivalry, peacemaking, penitence, exclusion, exhibition, stalking, selfishness, caretaking, cowardace, and blowups and breakups. We watched each other be nerdy, talented, irreverant, mean, courageous, awkward, brilliant, profound, and profane. We supported each other through various performances, heartbreak, bad hair days (which were many with mullets, crispy perms and Big Hair), losing sports seasons, delinquency, teacher vendettas, the infinite varieties of teenage humiliations, and bomb threats. And, sadly, we failed each other, too–besides outright malevalence and cruelty, we were guilty of countless missed opportunities to ease loneliness, soothe heartaches, seek forgiveness, and make friends.
I suppose the collective consciousness of all those moments, rising to the surface of my memories at the prospect of seeing my classmates again, accounts for the fragility and transparency of my emotions upon cresting the hilly boundaries of my hometown. Moscow itself is a character from my past, a breathing, tangible, cocooning space that soothes me the moment I glimpse the outline of the mountains that form the city’s backdrop–these same mountains were the refuge and sentinels of my childhood. Like my classmates, Moscow has changed: grown beyond its earlier borders, it plays with the bigger kids in sports and state politics, but at its core it remains the quirky, somewhat bohemian personality I remember.
Because of time conflicts, I was able to attend only the Saturday evening function–a dinner-with-DJ affair that included spouses. Long-time pal Wendy and I arrived together, and we melded into the medley of outstretched arms, happy exclamations, and laughter that characterized the evening. The highlight was the graduation party video, juxtaposed with a slideshow of classmates today, put together by our own Photographer Extraordinare (and AP photographer) Ted. Overall, however, my favorite aspect of the evening was seeing and talking with this outstanding group of people who have become parents, business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, professors, teachers, musicians, farmers, doctors, military standouts, performers, EMTs, firefighters, and a host of other excellent titles.
The title I am honored to call each of them is Friend.