Thursday, October 8, 2009
MY 50TH HIGH SCHOOL REUNION!
(The design above, for the reunion invitation, was created by classmate Cary Carson.)
Tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 9) I get on a plane to fly from Boston to Minneapolis to attend the 50-year reunion of my class of 1959 at Edina Morningside High School. This is scary and exciting, nerve-wracking and exhilarating. It’s an event that many of us have been planning for more than a year. I was privileged to be one of the editors collecting bios and photos from 187 of our nearly 300 classmates for the Reunion Book. (Forty classmates are deceased and 22 of them have memorial pages in the book.)
High school was definitely NOT the happiest time of my life. I longed to get away from Edina, Minnesota, where we all seemed so homogeneous and competitive. Immediately after graduation, I traveled with a group of students to Europe for most of the summer and fell in love with travel—even though it was the ultra-budget variety. (The first hotel in Germany was a barely converted stable that still smelled like horses.)
At the reunion, I hope I’ll recognize my fellow classmates. The super-conscientious organizers of the event have created name tags for us—presumably with our high school yearbook photos—for ease of identification, but of course I’m too vain to wear my glasses so I probably won’t be able to read them! And I’m notoriously bad with names—can hardly remember those of my own children.
But I know from collecting the photos and bios that many of us have not changed that much in looks, despite the half century that’s gone by. What surprised and delighted me was how we’ve all traveled in different directions and survived a stunning variety of challenges.
As teenagers we all seemed pretty much alike. As 68-year-olds, there are plenty of classmates who describe lives filled with grandchildren, of course, and golf, tennis and going south for the winter. But who knew there would be so many senior citizens riding motorcycles, flying their own planes, women racing ATVs and jumping horses, painting portraits and writing books and deep-sea diving?
Some classmates described living on a boat or isolated in a lighthouse, raising their own grandchildren, writing movie scripts or poetry, serving in the CIA, surviving cancer, leading congregations, missions, Bible study groups and pilgrimages. One man who lost a leg as a youth founded a company making prosthetic limbs. A woman has spent years working with rescue dog rehabilitation in the treatment of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another woman lived on a sailboat for 30 years, performs as a cabaret singer and has written books about a French poet and an Indian tribe in Panama.
Many of our classmates have suffered loss of a spouse through death or divorce and then found love late in life. And some are currently struggling with disability or disease, but still fighting to appear at this reunion.
In our adult lives, my generation has lived through the most momentous changes in history—the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, political assassinations, Viet Nam, equal rights for women and the technological revolution. We basically invented teenagers and rock ‘n’ roll. Now we’re working out new ways to cope with old age.
I expect to learn a lot of fascinating and illuminating stories over this coming weekend, and when I get back from Minnesota, I’ll share what I’ve learned. This isn’t going to be our grandparents’ Fiftieth Reunion!