Class reunions can often be reduced to little more than cliched life events. If you care too much about going, you can be accused of living in the past. If you care too much about not going, you're thought to be too weighed down by the recent past.
Last weekend, an impressive sampling of our 200+ graduating class stuffed ourselves into the tight (but totally generous--thank you Brad Elgin) digs of a bar above a motorcycle shop and did our best to celebrate our present so rooted in the past.
After 30 years, we've got this down. In the same way that the class of '86 dominated at sports and the class of '88 couldn't be topped at any sort of decorations, our class is officially great at reunions. In fact, I loved seeing members of both classes comfortable enough to join in. Perhaps this is a dubious distinction, but if you were there, you would understand.
There is an irony to the fact that, with every advance five year mark, we seem to shed things - the formality of those early year gatherings, the impulse to only hang with those we knew, and, I noticed, a fair number of spouses (as classmates become more comfortable - or perhaps spouses slightly less tolerant of hearing the same damn stories one more god damn time). And, was anyone else disappointed that Roger Penick wasn't there to resist our insistence that he reprise his Michael Jackson Motown 25 routine? We're not shedding that tradition...
The room was filled with a genuine kind of enthusiasm I found deeply touching. Yes, there were the awkward conversations that trailed off or the unfortunate instance of having to squeeze past the last person you'd ever want to come face to face with because they happen to be sitting at the table nearest the bathroom, but mostly I witnessed bursts of ridiculousness and kind gestures likely to resonate. That room got loud in the best possible way.
Like everywhere, our class is filled with those who went off and accomplished impressive feats, those who are deeply wounded, and the rest of us who fall somewhere along the bell curve. Those who we've lost - by their own hand or by illness - were memorialized in small groups by those who knew them best.
I don't pretend to speak for everyone; I'm fully aware of my position as an optimistic extrovert. But I also know that I'm not alone in the feeling that in a world so recently fraught with overwhelming fear and confusion and angst, a reunion in the very true sense of the word, was just what my soul needed.
Your Grateful Classmate