Last night the Lovely Sharon and I attended my 40th High School Reunion. In June 2009, I wrote an essay in this blog about Granite High School - http://www.bheadman.com/2009/06/granite-high-school.html - and its closure after more than 100 years of service as an educational instituion. When I first heard that the 40th reunion would be held in June 2011, I was not particularly excited about attending. I thought maybe I would attend but maybe I wouldn't. I knew I would be busy in early June with a family wedding and other events and responsibilites. Except for a few people, I really had not kept in contact with classmates from a class of almost 700. I had not seen most of my classmates since graduation day. As I thought about the reunion I wondered if I would recognized people, remember names or even care if I did. But then It happened, I started receiving emails from the reunion organizers encouraging me to attend. I finally thought, what the heck, I would go.
The reunion was held at the school, in the cafeteria. The Lovely Sharon and I arrived at 6:00, the designated starting time. As we drove into the parking lot, I was surprised at how many cars were already there. I checked in at the registration desk and was given a name tag with my picture from our senior yearbook. Sharon was given a blank name tag on which she wrote her name. It was then time to mingle. As I looked around at faces and bodies, I only recognized a few classmates. But the strangest thing happened. As I approached people or was approached by people, I looked at their faces, old faces by and large, and then looked at their name tag picture, I was taken back 40 years. I could picture them as they were back then. I could remember them and remember the friendship and warmth I felt for them. I remembered how they were so important in my life 40 years ago. This happened over and over all evening as I was reacquainted with dozens of old friends. It was somewhat odd that as I talked to classmates and looked them in the eye, I did not see the almost sixty year old man or sixty year old woman. I saw the young person they once were.
These were the people that, along with me, transitioned in high school from adolescent to young adult. Forty years ago we shared a common experience at Granite High. We shared laughter, parties, school events, and high school struggles. On a more global scale, we have shared the history of the last 58 years. We shared Vietnam, presidential terms, terrorists, natural disasters, technological advancements and financial booms and busts. We have raised children and contributed to society in various ways during the last 40 years.
At one point in the evening, the reunion organizers paid respect to those who had died since high school. As their pictures were shown on a screen in the darkened room, I felt a lump in my throat as I contemplated that these friends had died. I was aware of some of the deaths but not all of them. Surprisingly, I felt a personal loss over their deaths, lives cut short, leaving familes and friends behind.
I talked to football and basketball teamates. I talked to fellow chorus and Madrigal members, I talked to student government members and to so many others. I talked to so many people that I was overwhelmed with the flood of memories. I was surprised at things people told me that I had said to them 40 or more years ago, or things I did with them or for them. One friend, a basketball teammate, told me that I had taught him to play the harmonica, something I did not recall. Several people told me that I had shown act of kindness to them or had encouraged them in some way all those years ago. As you may expect, this made me feel good about myself. Wouldn't it be sad to think that 40 years ago you were mean or unkind to someone would remembered such unkindness all of these years later.
At one point in the evening we all stood up and sang our school song, "The Song of the G". We sang with emotion, warmth and passsion. I got misty eyed as I sang, recalling every word these 40 years later. I looked around as we sang and it appeared that this communal activity of singing this song, a song that represented a common bond and a time of life when we were innocent and when all things seemed possible, was having the same effect on others that it was having on me. When we finished the song, I kind of wished that we could sing it again, right then, right there. It felt like looking at photos in an old photo albumn where you let your gaze linger on the photo a little longer. Where you wanted to feel the edges of the photo with your fingers and where you wanted to go back in your mind and recall that time.
Life is a journey, a progession where we move forward and get knocked back. Important life events of college, jobs, mariages, divorces, grandchildren, illness and deaths have enriched and challenged each of us. Each of us have traveled our own life path, meeting new friends, raising families, working, playing, having new interests, and growing each in our own way. We each have things we are proud of and things we regret but for a few hours last night we were at a common place together, celebrating each other, celebrating our own lives and recalling times past, times that helped make us who we now are.
I thank the event organizers and workers, Lorrie, Diena, Nancy, Steve, Colby, Vickie, Ralph, Mike, Joe and others for putting together such a wonderful evening.
Recently Read Books
- A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
- Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
- The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
- An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
- Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
- The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
- LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
- Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
- Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
- Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
- In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
- Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
- Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
- Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
- Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
- The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
- Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
- The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
- Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
- Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
- Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
- Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
- Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
- Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
- Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
- Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)