Reunion Wisdom

 

Betchya you’ll be glad you did!!!! (and so will everyone else!)

– If you’re struggling with the idea of attending the Reunion, you are not alone…Apparently the internal debate is universal. We’ve all had some of the same thoughts. If we wait until we’re rich enough/thin enough/successful enough, we would  never see anyone again!

Read on and discuss amongst yourselves. We all need to realize that our classmates don’t care about what we look like, the size of our checkbook, or how fast we’ve climbed the corporate ladder.

For a few hours, at least, we can all be 18 again!
Well, 18 with wrinkles and reading glasses anyway…

 


 

InvisibleThis article appeared in the Torrance, CA “Daily Breeze”, October 24, 2001

High school reunion is a time to celebrate `the invisible people’
by Richard Burton
Few things grab us by the collar and humble us as much as our high school reunions. They come back, every ten years or so, to haunt us like a ghost from the past. And maybe that’s just what’s so humbling about them… our youthful past is exposed once again-laid bare like an open wound, and brutally juxtaposed with our current reality.
I’m from the class of 1969. What a year. Nixon was President; the Vietnam War raged out of control; men landed on the moon; a half million young people gathered for the Woodstock Festival; the New York Mets won the World series; and gas was 35 cents a gallon.
And so, having graduated, barely, a little over 30 years ago, I have had much time to consider, ponder, meditate on, and wrestle with the reasons we even bother to go to our high school reunions. I’ve gone to my 10, 20, and 30-year reunions. Of course, we all stay in close touch with a few old friends that we’ve known since kindergarten. And we often bump into old classmates around town. But why would an otherwise sane person subject himself to such extreme scrutiny by people who you knew way back when.
First of all, things were simpler back then. I know for a fact because I have a teenager in high school today. Back then, you were either a jock or a non-jock. I suppose if you really wanted to complicate things, you could divide the non-jock category into four basic sub-divisions: The Brains; the Prom Queens; the Hoods; and the endless rabble of nameless students known simply as the Invisible People. Fortunately, most of us fit into this latter category.
I say fortunate because reunions are the great equalizer. There is a satisfying irony in finding out that the captain of the football team now has bad knees, a beer belly, and is thrice divorced. That the gal whom you thought was a goddess now looks more like the gal at the checkout counter at K-Mart. And that the star honor student who later went on to receive a Ph.D. in nuclear astrophysics, has dropped-out, moved to Oregon, and opened an ostrich farm.
Now this is the best part. Because most of us were among the Invisible People in high school, we actually held up much better over the years than our more visible counterparts, the Jocks, the Brains, the Queens, and the Hoods. Our legacy is too blurred to really hang a label on. We were diamonds in the rough. We hadn’t blossomed yet. Had not reached our peak. And thus, it is all but impossible to notice a glaring difference between then and now, because we seem today, about how we seemed back in high school… only with wrinkles.
We survived high school without too much baggage, and therefore, assimilated into proper society without much difficulty. Many of the Jocks, Brains, Queens, and Hoods had a far more difficult time of it out in the “real” world in spite of their former lofty positions.
Actually, from my keen observations at these reunions, I would say that after the Invisible People, the Hoods fared best in the long run. Some had gone into the Marines after high school. That’ll usually straighten a person out. Some had even done a little prison time. Ditto. But most had simply outgrown their bullish and antisocial ways. These Hoods are now, for the most part, respectable members of society, married with 2.5 kids, and coaching soccer on weekends.
But back to the undefined masses, the multitudes of us who didn’t stand out. Who just did what our parents and teachers told us to do. Who simply went to class, did our homework, got a good nights sleep, and did it all again the next day for 4 long, inglorious years. All without our 15 minutes of youthful fame. Here’s to the true survivors… us…the Invisible People.

 


WHY YOU SHOULD NOT MISS YOUR CLASS REUNION… 

Most certainly many former students, no matter what high school they attended, ask the age old question, “Why should I attend my class reunion?” It is a valid question, and I am sure if you expend a large allotment of time and mental effort, one could find a myriad of reasons not to make an appearance.

Some of us will choose not to attend because we are concerned about appearances of all types..

Man, I can’t attend because I’ve changed so much…”
“I’ve changed, but no one else has…”
“Gee, what if people discover that I’m not where I want them to think I am…”
“I’m so past that high school thing…I’ve moved on and so should they…”

We are not entirely the “same” people that took those final steps from those memorable halls of HF over 40 years ago. Back then we were all fresh faces, some with dreams in hand and spirit, eager to stamp our own unique signature into this temporal world. Some of those dreams came to fruition. For others, dreams changed and evolved into a different and marvelous reality unfathomable as mere kids.

Whatever we have become, for the most part we are far better people than when we left the launching pad back in 1975. We are more articulate, expressive and more self assured of ourselves. We have the ability to fight through the insecurities of youth and peer pressure that limited the full potential that resided; chained deep within our psyches. For once we can reveal our true selves and in return uncover the ‘undiscovered country’ in our friend’s lives. We are more complete people.

It is a time of rediscovering why we were all friends and companions at one time , The fact that we have shared a common experience during a moment in time that was directed by loved ones, is the social glue that beckons at the core of our souls to come home, one more time.

It is our hope that you join us and have a blast at the reunion. Understand that time is a precious and limited commodity. Invest it wisely and reap the wealth in a payout of smiles, laughs and love. Please join us…and help us celebrate Life and the fact that we still are able to celebrate!

The following is an excerpt from an essay by Edward Beardshear, from Newark, Ohio on why he still loves to attend his high school reunion…

“So, lastly, why is my affection for all these people so extravagant, what are some reasons nobody forgets their high school years?
  • This was the place I grew up.
  • This is my spiritual home.
  • This was the place where I was safe.
  • This is the ground where the seeds of later life got sowed.
  • These were the people who were the anvils upon which I forged who I was and what I would become.
  • These people were the loving teachers of all the really important lessons of living and of life.
To forget your high school years is to amputate a major part of you. It isn’t over, of course. The members of the class, they teach me yet.
  • They teach me now of the importance of holding life in reverence.
  • They teach me the critical importance of enjoying the moment and living well in it.
  • They teach me the strength of humility, the futility of pride and the emptiness of achieving money and power and status at the price of soul.
And most of all, they teach me gratitude.
God Bless them all.

“Our Friends Are A Very Important Part Of Our Lives.

Treasure The Tears, Treasure The Laughter,

But Most Importantly, Treasure The Memories.”

HOW TO STAY YOUNG…

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, Whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

 

Tips for How to Act at High School Class Reunions
Taken from Ann Landers advice column, June 9, 2000

1. No whining or moaning over what “might have been,” or anything else depressing.
…No one wants a pall cast over this happy event.

2. Seek out people who have made a difference in your life, and thank them.
…They will appreciate it.

3. Check your midlife crisis at the door.
….No one needs to know you are having an affair or that your spouse just left you.

4. Do not brush off anyone who wants to talk to you.
….It doesn’t matter whether or not you liked that person in high school. We have all changed.

5. Bring tissues, and cry all you want when you’re overwhelmed by nostalgia or old friends.
…Tears can be a great catharsis.

6. All responses to questions should be at least two full sentences.
…Don’t be abrupt. It will make you appear snobbish.

7. Don’t do too much bragging.  It puts a spotlight on your insecurities.
…The best compliments are the ones you get without fishing.

8. Any remarks about your baldness, weight or wrinkles should be countered with something humorous or self-deprecating. No offense is intended.

…Sometimes, when people are surprised at the change in the appearance of an old friend, they don’t know how to deal with it, so they try to mask their surprise with humor.

9. Be careful how you approach others. Be respectful.
…Remember that you are dealing with someone’s wife, husband, mother, or father.

10. Be yourself.
….We remember you from way back, and will accept you the way you are.

 

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REUNION POEM

An announcement arrives in the mail,
A reunion is planned;
it’ll be really grand.

Save the Date, make plans to attend without fail.

I’ll never forget the first time we met;
We tried so hard to impress.
We drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars,

And wore out most elegant dress.

It was quite an affair; the whole class was there.
It was held at a fancy hotel.
We wined, and we dined, and we acted refined,
And everyone thought it was swell.

The men all conversed about who had been first
To achieve great fortune and fame.
Meanwhile, their spouses described their fine houses
And how beautiful their children became.

The homecoming queen, who once had been lean,
Now weighed in at one-ninety-six.
The jocks who were there had all lost their hair,
And the cheerleaders could no longer do kicks.

No one had heard about the class nerd
Who’d guided a spacecraft to the moon;
Or poor little Jane, who’s always been plain;
She married a shipping tycoon.

The boy we’d decreed “most apt to succeed”
Was serving ten years in the pen,
While the one voted “least” now was a priest;
Just shows you can be wrong now and then.

They awarded a prize to one of the guys
Who seemed to have aged the least.
Another was given to the grad who had driven
The farthest to attend the feast.

They took a class picture, a curious mixture
Of beehives, crew cuts and wide ties.
Tall, short, or skinny, the style was the mini;
You never saw so many thighs.

At our next get-together, no one cared whether
They impressed their classmates or not.
The mood was informal, a whole lot more normal;
By this time we’d all gone to pot.

It was held out-of-doors, at the lake shores;
We ate hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans.
Then most of us lay around in the shade,
In our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.

By the thirtieth year,it was abundantly clear,
We were definitely over the hill.
Those who weren’t dead had to crawl out of bed,
And be home in time for their pill.

And now I can’t wait; they’ve set the date;
Our thirty-fifth is coming, I’m told.
It should be a ball, they’ve rented a hall
At the Shady Rest Home for the old.

Repairs have been made on my hearing aid;
My pacemaker’s been turned up on high.
My wheelchair is oiled, and my teeth have been boiled;
And I’ve bought a new wig and glass eye.

I’m feeling quite hearty, and I’m ready to party
I’m gonna dance ’til dawn’s early light.
It’ll be lots of Fun; But I just hope that there’s one
Other person who can make it that night.

A MATTER OF LAUGH OR DEATH…

Come to think of it, not much has changed in 40 years

It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years since Graduation Day, 1975. It’s hard to believe after this many years, we continue to say, “It’s hard to believe…” What did we think, that we were immune to the passage of time?

That we would remain forever in our 20s? That we were the first genera­tion in history that would not wake up one day and discover we were now in our 50s, and our kids are older than we were when we graduated?

Yes, that’s exactly it. We never thought we’d ever get old. Or, at least, we never thought it would happen so darn quickly. There’s an old expres­sion: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Well, there’s another old expression: The more things change, the more they REALLY change.

Here is a list that demonstrates how much things indeed have changed during the past 40 years.

Each couplet describes something we were doing back in 1975, followed by what we instead are doing now in 2015.

Sociology exam – Prostate exam.

Going to sleep at 4 a.m. – Waking up at 4 a.m.

Keg parties – Tupperware parties.

Long hair – No hair.

Hot dates – Hot flashes.

Hours of enjoyment with a $4 Fris­bee – Hours of frustration with a $900 set of golf clubs.

Progressive politics – Progressive bifocals.

Getting high – Getting high blood pressure.

Beer kegs that flowed to the max – Bladders in desperate need of FLO­MAX.

Lying to our folks about what we did in high school – Lying to our kids about what we did in high school.

Starting Saturday night at 10 p.m. – Concluding Saturday night at 10 p.m.

Poli Sci – PoliGrip.

Studying ancient history – Remem­bering ancient history.

Thinking people in their 30’s were old timers – Thinking people in their 30’s are young pups.

Hundreds of vinyl albums in a heavy wooden crate – Hundreds of digital albums in a 2-ounce iPod.

Hoping we wouldn’t have to move back in with our folks– Hoping our kids won’t move back in with us.

Greek fraternities – Grecian formu­la.

Wishing our parents would leave us alone – Wishing our kids would call once in a while.

Amazed at Bruce Springsteen’s en­durance during a 3-hour concert –
– Amazed at Bruce Springsteen’s en­durance during a 3-hour concert.

Bushy mustache – Bushy ear hair.

Deciding where to live – Deciding where to be buried.

Trying to discover the meaning of life – Trying to discover the meaning of death.

Focused on finding happiness – Re­alizing happiness comes when we stop focusing on it.

Now that the Class of ‘75 has ac­quired age and guile, we too under­stand that the experience gained during the past decades far out­weighs youth, innocence, and especial­ly those hideous 1970s-style haircuts.  Which brings us to our final 1975-2014 couplet .

Thinking people in their 50’s were ancient fossils –
–Knowing people in their 50’s are just hitting their prime.

Well, at least that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

The best advice for any reunion-goers, lighten up and enjoy it.  It’s one evening.  You probably won’t see these people again, or at least not for 5 or 10 years.  Go, Be Yourself, Don’t Overthink it. You might as well have a good time.

 

Smile! ….and always remember life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

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