My 40th year high school reunion activities will take place this weekend, but I won't be participating in any of them. My decision to not attend the festivities was made mostly by choice, but there had been talk of my whole family (including kids and grandkids) taking a vacation together during this very weekend so I had already begun to adjust to the thought of missing my reunion.
I chose to not have much input into the vacation plans being made because frankly, I'm not much of a traveler. I'm more of a homebody, and for good or bad, that's just the way it is. I like being home but I don't mind taking day trips. I'm simply not interested in making any trips halfway across the country. I have a whole herd of animals here that would either need to be boarded or I'd need to hire someone to come in and care for them during my absence. I'd just rather be here with them myself, but I wasn't going to refuse to go along with my family's plans and wishes.
That being expressed, the vacation plans fell through for numerous reasons, but by that time, I had already decided to not attend the reunion. Why would I not want to attend my 40th class reunion? I know it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reunite with "kids" I hadn't seen or talked to for over 40 years and I was initially very excited when I heard about the gatherings.
This weekend's activities have been in the planning stages for over two years. When first contacted by the chairperson of the reunion committee, I emailed back and forth with him a few times and we caught up with each others' lives and re-lived old times in the neighborhood in which we were raised. He had often come to my house to play in my backyard and enjoy my swingset when we were in elementary school and I always thought we were good buddies. Apparently, that's where our friendship began and ended. While in junior high and high school, we hardly ever spoke to each other and I'm not sure why. Maybe we just moved in different circles.
Once the list of classmates and their email addresses had been compiled, it was shared with all of us. Being an email enthusiast and one who loves to communicate, I began to contact some of those classmates I thought had been among my best friends.
One person did reply to my email. She now lives in Wisconsin and I thought it might be fun to us to communicate with each other. I told her I felt sad that we hadn't kept in touch through the years. She said she didn't really remember the things of which I was reminding her - things I had considered highlights in our friendship. I mentioned a delicious crepe' recipe she taught me to make and told her I'd made crepes for my grandkids a few times, and that making them brings back sweet memories of overnights at her home. She said she had no recollection of ever making crepes with me. She didn't even recall an early morning jaunt a group of us made after a pajama party at her house. We were running down the street, working off those crepes! We ran into a well-known radio/TV personality while we were out and about and for whatever reason, he gave each of us a huge all-day lollipop. Being the crazy girls we were, we devised a silly routine that we shared in front of our 6th grade class the following Monday at school. It was the little ditty - "L-O-double L-I . . . P-O-P spells lollipop". I shudder to think of that now, but at the time, it was fun and it allowed me to step out of my comfort zone for just a moment. How could she not remember any of that? So how good of a friend had she actually considered me to be? I realize each person has her own frame of reference and each perceives things differently, but it's hard for me to understand how things that meant so much to me, meant so little to her.
Another classmate, who I'd considered a good choir buddy, felt the call to become a minister and had just experienced the birth of his first grandchild. I sent him an email of congratulations and shared just a little about my own grandkids. I told him I'd recently learned that he and his family live in a town not very far from ours. I suggested it might be nice for my hubby and me to drop in for one of his sermons some Sunday and I hoped he would issue an invitation. I reminded him about some of the antics we choir "geeks" used to pull on each other - all completely innocent - but I guess he was too busy to respond and I never heard from him.
There was also the good friend I had grown up with through Brownies and Girl Scouts, who had been one of the first people to walk in the door of the funeral home and pay her respects when my father died in 1972 - four years after graduation. I remember feeling very grateful to see someone I'd considered to be a good friend from my school days. She didn't bother to reply to the email I sent her.
Against my better judgement, I also sent an email to the guy I had a crush on all through elementary, junior high, and high school. We never actually dated, but we met and rode bikes together each summer and we would "accidently" run into each other at the old elementary school yard sometimes. While in high school, we often did homework together and passed notes during study halls. I was shy and backward back then and so was he, but I thought I'd be brave and send him an email. After all, we're 40 years down the road now and we should be able to communicate through simple friendly emails - at least that's what I thought. I reminded him of the summers when he and one of our neighbor boys sat on the boy's front porch and played Monopoly while my girlfriend and I played the same game on my front porch across the street. We'd yell stupid things back and forth to each other and I always wished the guys would come over and join our game, but we never asked them to, and they never did. They never asked us to join their game either. I suppose we were all too shy to even get together for a friendly game of Monopoly. I wasn't trying to rekindle anything by sending an email. I was just trying to be friendly and remember old times. I never received a word from him.
So why don't I care to attend my 40th reunion? I think I'd just rather remember the good times I had with classmates when they were my friends. I know time changes things and each has gone his or her separate way. I accept that. Most of us have marriages, kids, and even grandkids now and some of our classmates have passed on. It wasn't my intention, or even my hope, to form any sort of close relationships with the people to whom I sent emails. I simply wanted to reconnect so maybe I'd not feel out of place if I saw some of them again at the reunion. Perhaps I thought more of those classmates than they ever thought of me. I don't really know. Since so many years have passed with no communication, maybe my former friends have become indifferent toward the bonds we used to share. After all, it was 40 years ago that we knew each other.
What I do know is this: I'd rather see the faces of my classmates as they are forever etched in my memory. I'd like to keep the memories of our interactions intact and not have them swept away by indifference or the passing of time. I'll think of my classmates this weekend and hope they are healthy and happy. I wish for all those who attend the reunion to have a wonderful time, but I truly doubt that I'll be missed.