Friday, August 20, 2004

What's Old is New Again (Part 1)

I haven't had much time to write about my 20-year class reunion much since last weekend. I wish I'd started sooner when the memories and impressions were fresher, but work and home life got in the way. I'll try to start some stream-of-consciousness blogging and see where it takes me. (that's an AP English inside joke right there. Laugh, Beth ;))

Background: I was a fairly typical geek in high school. An arts geek, though, mostly. I did band, chorus, and drama as much as possible as well as AP (honors) english and math. I enjoyed school - I really did - but on its own terms. In other words, whatever my high school offered to me as an incentive or enticement to excel or enjoy, I took it and that's all I needed. I didn't party. I didn't drink, or smoke. I went in, did my work, saw my friends, enjoyed the school and went home. On Friday nights there were football games where I marched at halftime, we went to Mr. Gatti's on Clinton Highway after the game for pizza, and then I went home.

I also never went out with anyone in high school. Quite simply, I didn't know how. I had a crush on several girls while I was there but they were always unrecognized and unreturned - a fact which caused no end of teen anguish. (This is early 80's anguish we're talking about, here, not early 2000's anguish. If it were today I'd probably have shot up the school). But I gazed from afar and continued what I was doing.

After graduation, I went to college and got my BA in Theatre, got married, started a career, had two kids and started a blog. (interesting bio, huh?)

Fast forward 20 years past graduation. I've kept in touch with only one person, really, since graduation. The above-mentioned Beth was one of my best friends - smart, independant, a little wild (well, she was wilder when not around me, but I caught the fringes of it) and possesses a fierce passion for horses. Other than her, I simply stepped on with my life and new circles of friends.

We had a 10-year reunion back in '94, which was fun, but even 10 years out is not a lot of time for major life changes. I had no kids yet, had been married only two years. Similarly for others that returned.

This time I knew it would be different.

Around the first of the year I started looking at my calendar and wondering. I wasn't a class officer, and never had any responsibilities for starting things up so I sat and waited. Eventually, I was contacted by a representative for a professional Reunion company that arranged these things professionally. The date was set in mid-August, and I made reservations for my wife and I to attend.

Then the introspection started. What would they look like? How do I look compared to them? There were a number of nice-looking guys in high school and, judging from the attention I received 20 years ago, I was not. You start taking a look in the mirror. How's the gut? Not so bad...I certainly didn't weigh 200 pounds in '84 like I do now, but hey, it's distributed like it should be expected. A 6'2" frame and fairly broad shoulders help.

I look at the face. I've had a beard for several years, but no one has ever seen it really. A beard screams "old guy" though in some ways. What to do? Got it - goatee! (shave, shave, trim, trim). Done. Hey, sporty ;) What else?

(looks at pasty white skin)


Hilton Head in early July! Fun in the sun! Took care of that real quick. (ouch)

Ok, feel a little better.

Time slipped by, and the date approached. Then a bad thing happened. Our high school quarterback, best-looking guy in the class and all around swell guy that everyone would be looking forward to seeing again...well, he died. Click the link to where I've talked about it already.

Beth came to town briefly to see some people and pay her respects. We got together with another classmate and caught up briefly.

Wait a minute. My friends don't die! That only happens to other people, not us. We're not getting older, we're not. Really....

I wasn't very close to him, but Beth was, and I felt badly for her. Mortality isn't an easy thing to recognize and accept.

However, it's simply another thing you have to embrace as part of life. Scary, yes, but always there.

Well, now it's last week. Friday and Saturday nights were approaching fast. I was checking the website that listed people returning. Some names I was surprised would be there were there, and others I really looked forward to seeing were not. What would we talk about? Current events? I didn't look forward to spending the weekend talking about politics, terrorism or war. The Olympics Opening Ceremonies were friday night - would we talk about that? Hurricane Charley was currently pounding the Florida coast - heavens, would the main topic be the weather??

The nerves began in earnest. I'm not a good person in crowds of people I'm not very familiar with. I'll talk your ear off if you walk up to me, but to initiate a conversation can be torture sometimes. What about the people I really didn't know that well? Would I be able to discuss deep philosophical theories with them? Would they still think I was the tall gangly band geek?

Ok, Barry - screw your courage to the sticking place. Kids are at the grandparents'. Get dressed, cause it's time to go....

Next: Friday Night, the first evening

No comments:

Post a Comment