My 20 year high school reunion is coming up in April. I'm very nervous about going, though excited to see old friends. I moved away shortly after high school and rarely went back. I missed our 10 year reunion since it took place right after 9.11 and I was scared to fly out of NY at the time. Back when I graduated, I was given Jim Metcalf's Journal, a collection of poems by a local New Orleans writer. This one piece he wrote, Class Reunion, struck a chord in me all the way back then and I had to dig this book out of a box to re-read it. While I am attending my reunion, it pretty much sums up how I feel.
The last paragraph of the letter read:
"And so Jim, we of the High School Homecoming Celebration Committee sincerely hope you can be with us and all your old classmates next month. As you know, this will be the first time we have ever attempted to get our graduating class together. It has been a long time since those wonderful pre-war years and we will, I am sure, have much to talk about."
I regret that I will not be able to be with you for the homecoming celebration. I must be frank and tell you that it is neither press of business nor the lack of time that precludes my being there. Rather it is fear. Fear that something very precious to me might be destroyed...the memories of those days, filled with the magnificent bewilderment of youth, when we were lean and eager, absurdly naive, summertime free and hopelessly in love with living.
I like to pretend that the people and the places are still there, just as they were when last I saw them. And sometimes, when it's important that I remember what being young was like, I go back in memory to those days.
If I were to see them now, the people and the places and the changes time has brought, my little game of make-believe would be over. It would fade into the world of reality that is, I believe, too much with us. There would be middle-aged people where children were supposed to be, fat where once there was muscle, and wrinkles would replace the dimples I recall on certain freckled faces.
And the places...the vacant lots...the gridirons of chilly Saturday afternoons in autumn, baseball diamonds under July's burning sun; they would not be vacant now, for progress would have grown in places that had felt the footsteps of our youth. And there would be plastic booths where tables with wrought iron legs and marble tops once held the sweet and wondrous delicacies from the soda fountain at Old Man Peter's drug store...and it would be air-conditioned. Gone would be the drone of wooden overhead fans that mingled with the talk of English Four, and who was going steady.
So if you will, Dick, give my regrets and tell all I'll be thinking of them. And when you hear them tell each other how they've changed, tell them that to me...they haven't...
In remembering high school, I think of how my friends and I loved the movie, St Elmo's Fire, and watched it at slumber parties. I need to sign off now before I get all nostalgic and start prank calling old boyfriends and hanging up. But before I do, I want to know...have you attended any of your reunions? I'd love to hear how it went!