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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Going back in time

My high school's 50th reunion was the middle of September. I debated before, and even after, whether I wanted to write about it in this blog. One reason for not is wanting to give others privacy. It's not like I write about everything that goes on in my life. On the other hand, I wrote about Farm Boss's and maybe it was only fair to write a bit about mine. Reunions of all sorts are part of our culture as well as this one being my personal experience.

The first thing I felt is the same as at Farm Boss's. It is just so amazing to be nearly 68 years old and in a room with most others around the same age. Wow, how did that happen? I made it? Really, I made it? When I got the small booklet the organizers gave us, I learned the names of 20 of my classmates who would never make it. That is out of a class of about 112. That many deaths seem like a lot and not sure if it's the average or maybe relates to being part of the Vietnam generation as well as growing up in a mill town.

For the actual reunion, I felt mine was well put together. That was doubtless helped by the planners being many of the same people who have served on the committees for all the others. They have been quite faithful in having one every five years which means they have probably learned a thing or two along the way. Interestingly I talked to several attendees for whom, like me, this was their first reunion. I think that number fifty had power.

This one was more costly than Farm Boss', but the cost all went into having it in a setting where the food was excellent, the rented conference room was lovely, the country club provided great service, and the setting of tables and room made it very easy for people to connect with each other. They had music in the beginning that fit the era of our high school, and I thought that was a lovely addition even though in mingling around the room I only could hear it at one side which actually is also good as it means it wasn't too loud to be able to hear people talking. For entertainment they asked several of the students to discuss memories from those years which is what such an event is all about.

Overall, I felt the attendees were nice people with whom to spend an evening which was not a surprise as basically they were pretty nice people back in 1961 at least in my experience. I think high school can be a difficult time, but mine pretty well yielded typical experiences of dances, sporting events, clubs, and classes. (Three of our teachers attended the dinner). I have good memories from my high school years. The things that weren't so terrific were part of experiences where we don't just learn from the easy things but also the hard. Even though I was taking classes aimed at entering college, I think I was a bit shallow back then; but let's face it, teen years are bound to be a bit that way and maybe that's not bad as a part of growth.
One thing which I think made the experience particularly relaxing for me was (and a tip I might suggest for anybody facing such a reunion after many many years of not seeing people) I went as me. The dress I ended up wearing is at least twenty years old if not more, which did require taking it to the cleaners to remove the dust accumulated (it is one of the few things I own that being 100% rayon did need drycleaning and could not be hand-washed).

Those high-heeled sandals might be ten or more years old but are the most comfortable pair of heels I have owned. My feet never hurt once even though I was on them most of the evening. So, a comfortable dress, bare legs and sandals, how much more can you ask to help an evening  physically work well.

As anyone would know, who has seen my photos in this blog, I also wore my hair as I generally do and no more make-up than usual. For me, that was a lot more relaxing than something more phony like a glamor look which might be someone else but wouldn't be me.

I don't think the woman that night was who I was in high school (not to say there aren't pieces of that girl), but overall to not be that same person today is something I find to be exactly how I want it to be. I like the idea of change as part of life. Milestone events like a reunion lead one to assess those things in a way I likely wouldn't otherwise.

Farm Boss and I were doing photos for the dinner, and that was fun as it always is for me. It was a bit more complicated in this case because I also wanted to do some visiting which I didn't feel personally was needed as much by me when it was his. I think I learned a few things about what would make the photographs better if I, in the future, do it again for some other group.

For instance, I had expected that the lighting would stay the same since it was all indoors, but it did not due to outside lighting changing or maybe even some within the room since this was a service provided. I'd pay more attention to that in the future. I'd also be sure to offer those who wanted couple or best friend shots to have pictures taken at a set time. Some hate having their photos taken and others might have liked it and we missed them. Live and learn with doing this as it's not like I am a professional.

When I wanted to adjust the group shot, the ones that Farm Boss had taken, I found anything that covered everybody, was small, missed a few, or seemed too dark. I managed to find three he had done one-two-three, in wallpaper like segments and was able, using my ever faithful Corel Photo-Paint 7, to meld them together as in the top photo. I'd do a better job on that kind of thing in the future.

What surprised me the most about the whole affair was that I felt more stress after it was over than I had before going. I think it was a sort of overload of blending together memories of the high school years with who those people appeared to be today. They went from 18 years old to 68 in a few hours. Sometimes I would have known who they were; but often, I'd have not had a clue until I saw their name badges or they told me.

Also I found myself (this happens to me a lot of times after big social gatherings) wishing I had said less or more, etc etc. For a couple of days afterward, I actually felt as though I had moved back in time to a place I had long ago left.  There were emotions from those days of the both good and the insecure sort.

None of that was what I had been expecting as I had thought it was just a social gathering. It was not. A reunion with people, with whom I started grade school and had known in various classes and social settings for 12 years, was not just a social gathering. It was a meshing of emotions, stories and memories of all sorts. It took awhile to leave that behind again.

One final thing, I really appreciated the support I got from Farm Boss beforehand, while there, and letting me stress out afterward. It's nice to go to something like that where you know at least one person there has your back. He gave me freedom to mingle with old friends while he did his own thing as he took half the photos. I was proud of the man I married 47 years ago (our anniversary was two days later).


Tabor said...

this sound similar to the way I felt after visiting family after a couple of years away. Our sensory nerves are limited in what they can absorb...I guess.

Anonymous said...

Rain--Nice writeup. Are you posting it on your class's website? It would be a real asset, I should think.

You made me think about my own attitude toward the people with whom I shared studies so many years ago (I was graduated 5 years earlier than you.) Even the boys who made my life somewhat unpleasant in grade school and high school, have been given a "pass" by me. I now understand that they were "just" being young/adolescent/teen-aged boys. I hope that everyone has, by now, given me a "pass" for having been a young/adolescent/teen-aged girl!
Cop Car

Rubye Jack said...

I'm looking forward to our 50th reunion since I haven't been to any of the others and like you, will very much go as myself with all my grey hair and maybe I'll even add a touch of makeup.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It was very interesting to read what you said about your feelings before, during and after this Reunion....I went to my 40th---it is the only one I ever went to...(This past June it would have been 62 years since I graduated High School...OY)...And I experienced very similar feelungs that you described....I was transported back to those High School days and the Good and The Bad---I didn't like that, at all....Because I felt I had changed quite a bit since then---So, to be transported back to who I was then was rather disconcerting...The aftermath was so similar, too....And I think I decided right then and there, No More Reunions for me. But, I was very glad I went, and ONCE was enough for me.

Dick said...

Pat & I attended my 50th in Spokane in August. I had been to the 20th but none of the others. There sure are a lot of memories that are kindled at one of these events.

Pat & I don't have the long history together that you and Farm Boss have as this is the second time around for both of us and have only known each other about five years. She didn't want to attend her 50th reunion as she said she has no contact and no real fond memories of any of her classmates. Some of mine get together usually every year for a few days in the summer and some I see at other times during the year. These memories are almost all good for me.

Fisher of men said...

This is a very nice blog. I love blogs that show off pictures.

Thanks for sharing...

Darlene said...

I attended my High School 50th reunion and then the 60th. I was amazed at how many from my high school graduating class were able to attend. We must have been a hardy bunch, but it is bittersweet when you read the list of the ones who have died.

The thing that surprised me was that the physically beautiful teenagers were still beautiful. Some things never change. And the nice people were still very nice. It made me wonder just how much we really change.

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Paul said...

Rain, I hope that you all had a great time...You looked marvelous...

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Rain, what a wonderful post about your 50th reunion. I can say with all honesty that I think you are the most beautiful woman in your class! And Farm Boss? I don't know all that many men who would be as gracious as he was. Because I have to go to so many reunions as part of work, the opposite party in a couple at a reunion where they know few people can really dampen the party.