On Thursday I depart for upstate New York to attend the 45th reunion of my high school class. I have attended every reunion (at 5 year intervals) starting with the 20th year. The format this year is typical of past reunions: Happy hour/mixer on Friday evening; picnic on Saturday afternoon; dinner/dance on Saturday night; and brunch on Sunday morning. We have all of these activities because we have a fantastic organizer. On the other hand, for me this reunion will be different from the others.
Classmates that know me well won’t ask these questions because they already know the answers. I’m still not sure how to respond to these questions from classmates who are just trying to make conversation. Answering with the news that in the past year I went from being married for 35 years to being single can create awkward moments. I suppose I will just provide some vague response that avoids sharing the bad news.
A second difference is that this year – probably more so than in reunions past – I intend to concentrate on classmates with whom I communicate in-between reunions. They have been tremendous friends to me. I want to be a better listener and compassionate friend to them.
However, I am always looking for helpful information about retirement. If I come across a classmate who is retired, I may pick their brain about how they did it and how they like it, etc. Maybe something I hear will help me make changes or plans for my own retirement.
A consequence of the foregoing intention is that I will probably not be taking many photographs (camera action tends to gets in the way of life) and I will skip a couple of the “official” reunion events to focus on unofficial “mini” reunions.
Third, I definitely will not be “dressing to impress.” High school reunions – particularly the early ones – are often associated with “one-upmanship”. Folks want to communicate how well they are doing or what kind of money or power status they have achieved.
After 45 years, who really cares about being impressive? If I have anything to brag about, it’s my kids but eyes can glaze over when you start down that conversation path with semi-strangers.
Being alive and having the health and resources to travel at our age is a significant accomplishment in itself. So, instead of bringing clothes that make a fashion statement (which I don’t own anyway), I am sticking to packing light and in a single back pack carry-on. Except for the occasional Goodwill bargains, my recent clothing purchases have been a few items that are specifically designed to be lightweight, easy to hand wash and dry overnight, and easily packable with minimal wrinkling. They have just enough style to avoid attracting attention to myself and most can be worn to work.
I hope I will have some interesting boomer reunion stories to share when I return.