You get all sorts of reactions when you declare to someone that you are going to a reunion. For some reason the reactions are most interesting when you admit it is a high school reunion. I know this because my thirtieth high school reunion was this weekend and most people I told I was going have had a pretty intense opinion about whether reunions are a priority or not. Some people think it is living in the past but the past is what made me who I am and I do adore going back to visit it and see if I learned anything :)
A reunion is defined as an "act of uniting again." So when things/people have been apart for a long time and they come back together again it is called a reunion...a gathering after a separation. I spent at least four of my very formative years with these same 300 or so people. Some I was closer with than others. Some I kept in touch with more than others. But no matter that, the truth is that our lives were all tangled together for at least those four years even if it was just a passing smile in the hall or someone loaning you a pencil. We definitely affected each other for good or bad. Most of our identity is forged in high school, it is a most fascinating thing.
Some people love to go to reunions others don't. I have thought about that a few times this weekend as I observed the classmates of mine that did decide to come to the reunion. What made them decide this was a priority? What makes others cringe at the thought and stay away? I go because I love people. I love to see what they have learned and what they have become. I don't care how they look. I don't care if they are successful or not. I just like them. It delights me beyond belief to see them loving to see each other again. If you administered a personality test to people who go to high school reunions would there be a commonality? Some piece that all those people have that makes them value re-connecting at any cost? I wonder if all the people who could not come realize that we all wondered where they were? How they are? And that we genuinely miss seeing them at our reunions?
It is not really possible to get a high school age kid recognize the value of each of these people they are going to school with, individually. And it was simply not possible for all of us to really know each other when we were in high school. It is sad but true. I am so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with these people and hear about their lives, smile at the mannerisms they have that are still "so them." I felt an overwhelming gratefulness for how kind my classmates are. I saw them all talk to each other, reach out, and laugh about not recognizing each other. I deeply hoped everyone had a good time and got what they hoped they would get out of reuniting.
As I think about the definition of reunion I realized that there are lots of sorts of reunions in our lives. Times when we unite again.
I have had children leave on missions and be gone for 2 years and then they come back and we reunite.
I have had old friends come back into my life after years of being apart and we reunite.
I have given up Reeses and then ....we reunite :)
I have lost weight and then...we reunite :)
I had friends I watched years of the television show Survivor with and we used to reunite years after we all moved away.
What about when I find a missing match to a sock? Yep, reunion.
I had my darling old college roommates come to Massachusetts a few years ago and we reunited and it was so fun.
I remember the first time I experienced the joy of reuniting. (You have to have lived awhile to get to the point that you recognize the power of reunion.) I was living in Indiana at the time and my high school choir teacher in Washington was retiring. I had been out of high school 19 years. All of a sudden everyone who was in choir was reconnecting. This retirement was big, we had all been touched by this teacher and his life, we all wanted to acknowledge him. I had been knee deep in raising my seven children and had not had a moment to stop and think about high school, let alone the people who were part of my life then. But before I knew it I was reuniting with friends from choir and my high school choir teacher. All of a sudden there were people back in my life who had known me before I was...gasp... a mom. It was a most surreal feeling to hear what they remembered about me and to ponder on how they had affected my life. I really needed it at this time in my life. It really helped me to get some much needed perspective on who I was and where I was going. I was so grateful.
So in the end even though we know it may not end up to be the best thing we have ever done, going our high school reunion. I it is still so amazing to see what the ending is turning out to be. How can you not want to know what the end is? I loved spending the last two days watching and listening to my old classmates from the class of 1986 form Snohomish high School. To admire what they have become. To marvel at what they are figuring out and how they are learning from hard things in their lives. We are such better versions of ourselves now.