Notes on a 50th High School reunion.
Friday, September 28; We woke to a sunny morning in a beautiful place but soon there were kids swarming all over the park. It turned out they were junior high kids on a geo-caching field trip for the day. They were very polite and seemed to be having a good time. It was fun to watch them but you found yourself wanting to yell - "Enjoy it now while you can - because before you know it you'll look like me and won't remember half the people you think you know now!"
We spent the morning logging, reading and relaxing, and I called Winnebago in Forest City Iowa to see what we had to do to bring our baby back for repairs. It seems like a good place to take her as we are fairly close (a day's drive) and we trust their workmanship. Hate to go all the way back there, but it's probably the best alternative.
About 3:30 we buttoned up and headed for the Grand Geneva Resort
and our rendezvous with history. We found a parking place without any trouble and sat in our coach playing Sudoku until it was time to get ready.
We changed our clothes and headed for the Pavilion where a get-together dinner was taking place. On the way we met Daryl who had seen us and came to meet us. I feel like I've known Daryl for years. We walked down to the pavilion and Torrey met us, and while we were talking to them we saw Kate Madison and Don Stein. When they saw us they came over and we had a nice little reunion of our own.
Kate's twin brother Sky was over at the bar with his wife Diana so I didn't get to talk to them until later. At one point I went up to the RV to get Madolyn's camera and ran into Rich Seaman who was polite enough to say he remembered me but beyond that we had little to say to each other.
We talked with the Youngstrums
and Kate and Don
, and later with John Bjorkholm's wife Mary, then headed for the buffet line which was already forming up. In the buffet line I met Marge Pleister but she could not stay and talk because she and her husband had left his medicine at O'Hare Airport and they had to go back and get it.
We sat down to eat with the people we knew and Sky and Diana came over and we finally had the chance to meet
. He looks good and has that same friendly sense of humor I remember.
I said 'hello' to Phyllis
and asked her how she wanted to get the paintings I'd donated as prizes. She said she would get the key to a room where we could take them tonight, as they need them in the morning and that way we won't have to come back early.
While she was getting the key I met and talked briefly to Joan Schoettle and Judy Van der Linden who surprisingly remembered me. Joan and her husband full time in a 40 foot RV and live in San Diego where he works for La Mesa RV. Judy and her husband live in Tucson, Arizona.
We left our paintings in a room called the 'Dog House' and headed back down to the party where the group had retired to a campfire and were making s'mores and visiting. I had a short visit with Don and then with Jean Hale while Don and Madolyn made s'mores. Then Don and Kate walked us back up to the RV. We said 'good night' and drove back to our campsite for another nice, peaceful night.
Saturday, September 29; We woke to another clear sunny morning and spent the day relaxing and touring the park and lake shore on our bikes until it was time to head out for the party.
We decided to check out of the park and try to weasel a free night out of the resort, parking for the night in their parking lot. It's $22 cheaper and the city park won't let you in after 11:00 P.M. Since the party didn't start until 7:00 we figured we might be later than that - and it turned out we were.
By the time we got to the resort it was already time to change our clothes for the party. (It's nice to have your dressing room with you, and a place to get away from it all if things get too hectic.)
Madolyn looked beautiful and I was really proud to be with her. Looking at the pictures I still look kind of scruffy so I hope I didn't embarrass her!
We went in and Torrey and Daryl invited us to share their table
, and also Kate and Don
, a teacher they called Mrs. Mac, and David Behling and his partner YoungKyu Kim
. Dave still has that warm, engaging smile I remembered and it was so nice to see him again. I had a nice conversation with Kim later too
The whole experience of the reunion was, to use a term that is already grossly overused, surreal - in a gentle sort of way. People were friendly but somewhat distant, even with ones they remembered better. The dinner was nice and the program was OK, but the handing out of the donated prizes was disorganized and confused. We were fortunate enough to get one of Torrey's bowls though. Fred Bloom got one of my paintings but I don't know who got the other one.
Some of the people I met said they remembered me and they were nice enough, but we had nothing much to talk about, and after the 'you look good' exchange, and a few superficial questions and answers the conversation would quickly degenerate into an awkward silence and then a quick, 'well - nice to see you again.' After which both parties would walk away feeling relieved and realizing you'd just exchanged about all the conversation either of you had in you.
I was glad I went and I experienced a pleasant kind of 'closure'. A lot of people I once knew and liked seem to be happy and healthy and doing well, and now that I know that I don't have to go again. Not because I don't want to see the people, but because it can only get worse from here.
Folks will continue to die, and with each obituary a little part of you and your past dies along with them. And except for a few like John and Torrey, Phyllis and Kate, and now Sky and Dave Behling, I have nothing in common with them any more.
At the end of the evening one woman quoted Thomas Wolfe's saying that 'You can't go home' and she said, 'But tonight proves that you CAN come home!' But we all know that with few exceptions it's never the same, and to paraphrase George Carlin, 'Maybe there's a reason we haven't kept in touch for 50 years!'
We all spent those few fleeting years together but that was long ago and far away, and unless we have more to connect us than high school, with each passing year it gets less and less important in our lives. Who we are now is what matters, and our connection to the people we've chosen to share our lives with in the present.
We retired to our home in the parking lot, and nobody bothered us all night!