Last night I went with my husband to his 50th high school reunion. Yes, I am officially married to an old man.
It was a great evening for him and I practiced my “observing” skills. I knew a handful of people and my goal as I told him in the car was, “I promise to try to not embarrass you.” That was best attempted by sitting and watching the evening activities.
From where I sat I saw some things that were missing.
I saw no “mean girls”, “jocks”, “honor students”, “stoners”, “nerds” (well maybe one or two nerds), “cheer leaders” or any other hierarchy.
What I did see was cheerful recognition, joyous reconnections and sincere hugs. There was also a lot of cautious nametag checking before the clap on the back or the hug around the neck which was followed by cheerful recall. Many live within the community and see each other from time to time while some are long standing friends with their lives intertwining. Others traveled a great distance to attend.
There weren’t many standing in the corner like a wall flower (maybe a few of us spouses at times). Many of the class members went out of their way to introduce themselves to us non-members. Kindness abounded.
Throughout the evening a lot of leaning in happened – which I’ve learned is a sign that someone is really listening – or it could be that at this age some are just trying to hear . . . anything.
Old stories about the past were shared. Laughing together reminiscing about this and that. At times the conclusion of the conversation was unknown. Memories are getting flimsy. But the fun of retelling the event through each one’s eyes was delightful.
Old age has a way of closing the gap. Not only does attitude change but physicality does too. The muscle bulging jocks had the same over the belt bellies like the nerds. The popular girl’s wrinkles and gravity attacks were mirrored on each beautiful woman.
I joke about the old age, appearances, etc. The bottom line – time levels things. What I wouldn’t give to help kids in school right now understand. To free the insecure, the bullied and even the bullies of the weight of acceptance and measuring up in their world. Those few years in school can distort self-perception for too long. It’s such a waste of time.
It was a wonderful evening for a school reunion. The sincere kindness shown to me – an outsider, was heartwarming. Watching people move from person to person, memory to memory, connection to connection was worth giving up an evening of popcorn eating and TV watching (because I lead such an exciting life).
Also, I can use this as ammunition when I want to get Farmer to do something with me that he really would rather not.
I made it through the evening without spilling food, tripping or walking out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I think I might have narrowly passed the “not embarrassing” part.
If not, I might be able to do a re-do in five years when they get back together again. I’ll have a while to practice.