Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time travel…the year is 1973 and we didn’t have to use the ‘Wayback Machine’

Kenwood High School Class of 1973 35th Class Reunion Saturday April 25, 2009

A word of warning to some of my regular readers, this post is not BBQ related.

Last Saturday night, I ventured to my 35th class reunion which was being held one year late due to a change in the reunion committee. My wife and I arrived at the hall with our good friends Jack and Renee and were greeted at the entrance way with some blue and white balloons, (our school colors), tied to a walker, at least someone has a sense of humor. Once inside, Jack leaned over and asked me “did we go to school with all of these old people?”

From that point on it seemed like we had stepped back into time. All of the sudden, it was 1973 as I wondered around shaking hands and hugging anyone with a nametag on. At one point, I think I hugged one of the wait staff. She was a good sport about it. My wife said she didn’t buy the story that I thought the young lady had graduated in our class, as she probably wasn’t even born yet when we left the hallowed halls of KHS. But that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I have a very good recollection of names and faces from 30 years ago, even though I can’t remember what I had for lunch half the time. I amazed myself identifying some of the folks that I went to school with. The class reunion is a funny event. You see a person that you used to sit next to for 3 years of high school and haven’t seen in 20-30 years and after a few minutes of conversation, its like you left school just last week.

The other interesting phenomenon about a reunion is, after the initial greeting, some catch up small talk, there is an awkward pause as you try and find an exit line. Early in the evening, it was very difficult, but as the night wore on I got it down and moved around the room like the 18 year old that I once was, only with a little more girth.

The best part was seeing the old friends. In our early fifties now, it seemed that most of the inhibitions were gone. Jocks, nerds, geeks and prom queens all stood together hugging and talking about life, kids, grand kids, and the good old days. It was if we were all young again, at least for a few hours, no worries, no concerns, just friends, old stories and what was left of our fading memories.

It reminded me of the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Glory Days’. It seems as more and more water passes under my bridge it becomes harder for me to listen to that song without welling up. Talk about hitting home, that song does it to me every time. It sucks getting old, but, it does beat the alternative.

The shot of reality came when speaking with folks. I heard success stories, tragic tales, cancer survivors, retirements, marriages (some for the 3rd or 4th time), grandkids, cancer patients, and of course the ever growing list of those no longer with us. The reunion organizers did a very nice tribute to that group of classmates, which made everyone stop, think, remember and reflect.

The DJ played a mix of tunes from our school years and today and some of the folks even got up to dance. It seemed like everyone that attended really enjoyed themselves. Except of course the spouses who could be observed sitting quietly at the tables or standing with hands folded in the background, occasionally glancing at their watches. Time standing still for them I am sure.

But alas, as quick as the evening began, the lights were coming up signaling it was time to go home. Many stood around hugging and exchanging contact information that will probably never be used. A few of the hardy ones announced some were adjourning to a nearby watering hole, this reunion we would miss. Some made the suggestion that we should do this every year. A good idea, but somehow, I think some of the luster would get lost in the sauce. Once every five years is perfect.

As our classmates made their way to the exits for their journeys back to reality, I believe the thought many people had was, ‘this is the beginning of the end’. While statistics say many will live well into their 80’s-90’s, reality is, the list on the table in the corner will do nothing but grow, that’s life. The truth of the matter is, we are approaching the backside of middle age, which is a fact. One only needed to look around the lighted room for confirmation if it was needed.

I think that was why I could see the occasional tear in many people’s eyes as we stood and said our goodbyes. Everyone promising to stay in touch, but again, reality is, we know we probably wont and just hope to be lucky enough to meet again in another 5 years for another trip to down memory lane.

Everyone is so busy just living life and trying to survive, sometimes all we can do is just hang on, hope and go along for the ride. It is for that reason, you must be sure to enjoy the good times when they present themselves, like they did for us on Saturday night. As a wise old man once said, (not me, I sure as hell ain’t wise), ‘life is too short’. I believe we are all beginning to see the truth in those profound words of wisdom.

The next day as I reflected on the preceding night’s events, I felt fortunate to be able to attend the reunion and blessed to be able to see many of the folks that were a large part of my younger days. I am also very thankful to have remained close with a handful of folks from those early years and extremely lucky to have them as friends today.

The 2009 organizing committee did an outstanding job preparing the time capsule for our journey. The year 2013 will be here before we know it. I hope there will be another gathering of our classmates for our 40th year reunion. I also pray that the guest list for the table in the corner doesn’t grow too quickly, there are already too many people sitting there.

As folks took off for the ride home and back to the year 2009, I am sure many reached for the antacid, Tylenol, and the Ben-gay. Many nursing upset stomachs, sore and swollen feet and aching backs, after all, we are nothing but a bunch of old farts! Give me three Tylenol and pass me my Rolaids, its way past my bedtime.


awb said...

Well done.

Sledneck said...

Man i was born in 1973

george- watg? said...

Thanks Sled, you really know how to make a guy feel good!

Anonymous said...

1976 Here