Let’s start by acknowledging that my high school class of 1969 likes to party. Thanks to the hard work by one of our loyal classmates and her helpers, we’ve had full-blow reunions every 5 years since graduation. (I’ve been to every reunion starting at 20 years post-graduation.) Our class motto was “Class of ’69 Drinks Bud.” (Technically, this was an unofficial motto because it appeared in print only once – on a large helium balloon attached by a group of us to the top of our high school flag pole during senior week.) Last weekend, we collectively affirmed our partying ways when 70 of us returned to Ithaca for a class 65th birthday party.
I won’t regale you with all of the conversations that we had. Interestingly, I don’t recall a single discussion about Social Security or Medicare. Some classmates are retired already but many – like me – are not. Either way, we all talked about the lives we are having now and how the future is shaping up for us. I was inwardly glad to know that I have a retirement date selected and a plan to get there.
Of course, stories of the old days were plentiful, no doubt embellished to a point where they are probably equal parts fact and myth. We don’t care because the stories are fun to tell and to hear. I’m grateful I still remember most of them.
Susan was surprised to hear of some of our high school antics and pranks. She was a serious music student – even in high school – which apparently caused her to skip some of the frivolity and folly of the high school years. That wasn’t a problem for our class of 1969.
Ithaca has changed a lot – no surprise there. But I was able to show Susan the house where I lived in high school, the fraternity where I lived in college, where I attended most of my classes, and the natural beauty in and around Ithaca. Susan become an honorary Ithacan by purchasing and proudly wearing an “Ithaca is Gorges” tie-dye T-shirt.
At this class gathering, I had particular difficulty recognizing some classmates. It seems that the two and one-half year gap since our 45th year reunion may have manifested itself. Either the physical signs of aging (mine included) have caught up with us or my vision and recognition skills have deteriorated. Either way, I learned to accept and appreciate our physical changes without fear or discomfort. My wish for my classmates is that their overall health remains strong, regardless of how we look. From all the smiles that I witnessed, I hoped this was the case. They deserve it.
At the dinner-dance, the combo entertainer and DJ played a lot of our vintage music and encouraged us to dance. At first, no one responded. Were we too old to hear and follow the music? Were we embarrassed about our rusty or outdated dance moves?
No – we were not!
At first, a few female classmates joined the DJ for some group dancing. Hats off to them because the rest of us were soon to follow. Susan and I were able to try out some of the foxtrot and west coast swing dance steps we had learned in our group dance classes in Nashville. This experience has encouraged us to expand our dance repertoire with more classes.
Even though I went to high school and college in Ithaca (my family moved to Florida after graduation in 1969), I have never been to a college reunion. I have written before about the unique and special nature – at least to me – of friendships formed in high school. If you work a little bit at maintaining contact, these friendships are fun to sustain and hard to kill. Many of the friendships I made in high school have deepened over the years. I cherish them. Two close friends of mine still live in Ithaca, which makes my return visits even more satisfying.
A few months ago I visited my father – age 92. I learned how after many years he had reached out to friends from high school and college that he had not seen in decades. I was glad for that. It proves that it’s never too late to find joy even in long-neglected relationships. Give it a try. Start by creating a Facebook group page for your high school class. Heck, plan your own mini-reunion.
This post followed a significant time gap from my last post. I don’t intend for that to happen again. I enjoy writing about my experiences as a baby boomer who is close to retirement. I hope you will join me.