Seeing my former classmates was like a look in the mirror. I look as old as they do. That was one sobering glimpse. In my state of denial I choose to believe that my physical appearance hasn't changed all that much through the years. A reunion asserts loudly and clearly, "You gotta be kidding."
It's a hard adjustment when, if your mind works similar to mine, you remember people like they were, rather than like they are. I recall "Bill"* as the class playboy; seeing him today I doubt he can even remember the last time he had sex. "Virginia"* was captain of the cheerleader squad--outgoing and gregarious,blond, body of a goddess. Add 50 lbs and subtract her personality she only speaks when spoken to. Fortunately, "Steve"** is still charming, confident, debonair, engaging, --the list goes on. And completely psychotic.
A 45th reunion serves as a sobering reminder of our mortality. Of a graduating class of about 70, 10 are deceased. That seems like a high percentage that the Grim Reaper has claimed for his own. It reminds me to treasure each day and live it in a full way because I might also be living it in a final way.
I grew up in small-town America, graduating from Hicksville High School. Seriously. Upon graduation I left and never turned back, escaping my sheltered existence and wanting to experience all that life has to offer. I wanted to travel and explore. I've lived with all the jokes about Hicksville. Do you know what it was like to sit in front of a prospective employer and as he is going through your resume he notes aloud, "So you say you graduated from Hicksville High. Are you trying to be a smartass?" I do my best to convince him of my truthfulness but he looks at me, squinting his eyes in suspicion.
Truth is, though I don't miss small-town America I can say with certainty there is a loyalty to each other, a mutual care and pulling together when a friend is down, a camaraderie that is seldom found elsewhere. The reunion reminded me of those glowing qualities in my friends who have remained in Hicksville.
I look forward to the 50th reunion. I was asked if I would provide the sermon on that Sunday morning. Talk about planning ahead. Then it dawned on me. I was given so much notice because they probably figure it will take me five years to come up with something of substance to say.
Some things haven't changed at all.
* not actual name or person
** my actual name