High school has the misfortune of occurring during adolescence, but high school reunions come much later in our lives. That might be one reason I had so much fun at my reunion this past weekend.
“I’m not a reunion person,” a friend told me three different times in a ten-minute phone conversation as I rode home with bob to Pittsburgh.
Does going to one reunion in fifty years make me a reunion person? If so or if not, I enjoyed remembering and reuniting with friends I felt truly fond of in high school, hearing the major milestones of their lives, which of course included both pain and joy. I also delighted in getting to know people I didn’t remember one bit.
I suppose it’s an unreal setting, catching up in fifteen minutes what really took fifty years to transpire. But relationships seemed to condense to the important details. Bucky Badamo at 13 taught me every Italian swear word I knew and teased me about my height, (I grew 5 inches in about 5 months), “How’s the weather up there?”
At the reunion, he hugged me and said, “Just the person I wanted to see.”
“Bucky,” I said, “We did nothing but fight.”
“Ah,” he said, “I had such a crush on you.”
Nonsense, of course, but he was a new widower and for that evening we were all loved and admired and accomplished and harmonious.
To me, returning after fifty years, forty-two of them blind, I worried that my former classmates would avoid the blind me or embrace me awkwardly or over-solicitously. Instead, they welcomed me with tremendous warmth and affection.
And I realized that the people I loved in 1961, I still loved though we hadn’t had contact for all these years. And this was a significant insight.
I tend to make a very distinct demarcation between the sighted and the blind me. The post-sighted person seemed to be the mature, discerning, improved person—always. But I realized last Saturday night that I’d chosen very good people as friends, even in those immature, superficial days. Somehow, that realization was gratifying.