Finally, some movement

It is now five months prior to our planned reunion. Although the rescheduled date has been published on Facebook, classmates (I know, it’s now Memory Lane), and at least one of the two bulletin boards my class has, everyone does not been informed. I’ve emailed or called a few friends but didn’t want to tackle this before I had more clear details. Between all sources, I’d say about half our class has been given the information, but we have classmates who aren’t on FB, don’t have email, and a few who never go online. And as far as I can tell, about three people have actually looked at their classmates email, making that an almost worthless means of communication.

For the Original Reunion I  sent out  a “Save the Date” postcard, an official invitation, and a final reminder, using my own money for postage and printing. I addressed everything myself; I’m not wild about starting this process all over. (Yes, yes, if I were a bit more technically savvy or had the time and patience to figure it out, I might have been able to print all the addresses from Excel, but I switched to a Mac a few years ago, and I’ve never really learned Excel or how to merge and I didn’t want to mess with it.)reunionpostcard3

I hadn’t been working for the last few years, and when one of my past co-workers asked if I’d like to fill in for someone on sick leave, I jumped at the chance. I wanted extra money so I wouldn’t feel guilty spending for the reunion. Fortunately, or unfortunately, more than a year later I’m still at the job, now as a permanent part time person instead of someone who can come and go as she pleases. Part time work allows me less time to spend on the details of the reunion and cuts into the time I have to do other things, like work on my novel.

But finally the head of the Class of 71 planning committee has started organizing and tonight I’m to contact and discuss registration with the volunteer from that class. So I will have no excuses not to start designing an announcement to send out.

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Some of the reasons I care about reunions: Make me feel better about high school

Talk about living in the future! I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school so that I could attend my first reunion.  I remember listening to my mother talk about the reunion she and my father had recently attended. She’d skipped a grade, and was a year ahead of herself, in the same class as my father, whom she’d dated since the 8th grade, but I remember her telling me with great delight about a man who told her at that reunion that he’d been in love with her.

And that was what I wanted and what I was looking forward to when I was still in high school; I wanted to attend a future event and have some classmate tell me he’d always had a crush on me. Somehow that would make me feel better about the crummy dating experience high school had been. A savior to restore confidence to the past me to make the future me happier.

Happened to everyone I knew. They’d go to a reunion and return with the story of a man telling them they’d been in love with them in grade school/junior high/high school. They’d been in love with them their whole lives. They still loved them. Or, those girls who started sleeping around at a young age, or the ones who had been the homecoming queen candidates would talk about an old boyfriend who’d told them how they remembered them with a grin that made them feel good. In most cases, little changed, although the woman telling me would seem surprised or touched or happy. Even my husband had a classmate tell him at his twentieth reunion–the only one he relented to attend–that she’d had a crush on him.

But no one came forward at my tenth reunion. Or the 35th. And more than likely, no one will if we have this 41st, either. Being needy, I keep hoping, but being a realist, I wonder why I think this is even likely? Who might have had a crush on me? The clown from 6th grade who senior year wrote in my yearbook that I was the most ravishing creature he’d ever met? I assumed he’d been joking. Ravishing was not an adjective I’d think to apply to my skinny, bad-skinned, stomach growling self.  His pal, one of the cutest boys in our class who was beloved by many wrote an arrogant rant to me he signed “A heartbreaker.” That made me giggle, too, because of course I never was in love with him although I thought he, too, was extremely funny. My most likely candidates were the handsome boy who wrote, “Why did it take you so long to give this to me?” in my yearbook or the boy who drew a mustache on himself and said he really liked me very much. Of those men, only the arrogant one made either of the reunions. At the 10th he maintained his arrogance toward me, although he later called to make sure I knew he was kidding, which I did. At the last reunion, he was dignified and quiet, still sought after by half the women in the class.

There was the young man who sat behind me in sixth grade who always asked me to dance. (Okay, this probably happened once but in the many recountings in my mind, it’s multiplied into a full dance card.) He had white-blond hair in a crewcut that made him look bald, but  he wasn’t Doug and I didn’t want to dance with him. Jamie sat across from me in 7th grade and picked out choice passages in his James Bond books for me to read, but he appeared to be in love with my friend, Debbie. He spent hours drawing pictures of her and the gap between her teeth. Years later I wondered what might have happened if he hadn’t moved . He is one of the few people who found me and contacted me pre-Facebook.

I  have to make do with the scraps, the almosts that I do have. Tim was a tall skinny, silly kid who I remember as having a pimple on the end of his nose. He was girl crazy, and not someone I was interested in. He chased me down the street one day in junior high. I didn’t really notice when he disappeared, but he transferred and didn’t graduate with our class, but he found out about that 10th reunion and attended. He was still tall and thin, and handsome! I don’t know why that surprised me. His father had owned a dry cleaning store in town and I’d always thought he was handsome. Tim had a pretty wife and was a pharmacist. He said he wanted to dance with me, and although we never did, as he left, he said “It’s the thought that counts.” Not many years later it was reported he’d died of cancer.

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A slight digression

Because it’s almost Valentine’s Day it seems like a swerve from my main topic is justified. I’m unlikely to be the only adult with scabs from childhood valentine’s day parties. Truly I don’t remember most of those stuffed shoe boxes of cards, and I assume most of the other children in my Catholic school classes followed the rules of etiquette and gave a meaningless remembrance to everyone. In sixth grade, though, I attended a public school, and like many of the other girls in my class, I was in love with Doug. Doug was sweet, and unassuming, and quiet, and cute. And that Valentine’s Day there were two of those flimsy cards from him in my box. On the bus ride home I confided this to Beth, and ventured that maybe that meant he liked me.

“Or he forgot he’d already given you one,” she said.

I laughed. It was true that he wasn’t that likely to be interested in mousey me, and it wasn’t hard to imagine his mother making out a card to the forgotten “new” girl. It dashed my hopes, but I continued with my crush on Doug in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. By sophomore year it was waning, although I’m sure if he’d ever paid the least bit of attention to me, I would have perked up. Alas, as far as I knew he continued in his quiet ways, not being openly involved with anyone that I remembered.

I found his picture on the Internet at some point prior to that 35th reunion. He looked like that sweet cute boy, although heavier and balder. He was married and a race car driver. A race car driver. I had to laugh. I could think of few things that would interest me less than car racing. It made me doubt what it was I saw in him–until that reunion six years ago.

We’d contacted our teacher, Mr. M, and he attended our Sunday picnic where six of us in attendance took a picture with him. Although Doug had been at the dinner the night before with his pretty wife, he wasn’t at the picnic. He’d had a recent bout with cancer and was now thin and frail, and even though I wanted to say something to him, I never found myself in the same vicinity.

Members of Mr. M's 6th Grade 41 years later

Mr. M recounted a story about Doug and all the books he’d read that sixth grade, and how Doug made the observation that he was smart, and that made me realize that his interest in learning and reading back in 6th grade must have been part of why I’d been interested in him.

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Why Reunion Troubles?

Six years ago my high school class held its 35th reunion. This is only remarkable because from my point of view, this had been our second gathering. There had been a 10th that was well attended. Supposedly there was a twentieth that was less well attended and which I knew nothing about. So for me and many of my classmates, this was our second reunion.

What a difference fifteen years made for the 35th. We had the Internet and search engines and email. Those of us who didn’t live in our hometown could still participate in planning. We could scour the Internet using search features and databases to root out lost classmates. From all accounts, that reunion was a success, and it felt as if we had a good turnout.

So what now? The primary people on the committee all said, “No more, I’m not planning a 40th, maybe a 50th.” Most of them lived in the area and even though they maintained they seldom saw each other, they were only a phone call and short ride away from  old friends. Some of us who lived at a distance didn’t get back  often, and let’s face it, we were all getting older. People had died. Others were no longer able to travel. Waiting fifteen years seemed too long.

But true to our class epithet of Most Apathetic, no locals stepped forward to say they’d work on the next event. Even though I lived 1600 miles away, I said I’d work on it. A man in Tennessee said he was interested, too. We emailed a bit, talked on the phone, and decided we could do it even from a distance. And that was where our troubles continued.