Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Catching up, staying in touch

Yesterday, I just re-connected with a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in more than 40 years. I found out that she had moved from Colorado to California, and catches up in San Jose with another friend from high school practically every weekend. I also found out that she has a PhD in forest management!  Another friend at the lunch is also from our class, and is in the midst of restoring an old factory at the port into a home and workshop for her woodworking. She and her husband also have seven boats and yachts! It was a real eye opener to find out what my friends have been up to in the intervening years since school. What was even better was that we could instantly connect and bond over silly stories from school!

I’m not a social person by any means, and can count the friends I keep in touch with on my fingers. We do try to meet up once in a while, over a birthday meal or a mahjong game, but work and family has kept us busy with our own lives.

So when some of my classmates decided to organize a reunion, it was a great opportunity to get together with some of them to put together a dinner event. It was more work that we envisaged in some ways. It was a challenge just to consider the sheer logistics of getting in touch with everyone, some of them in far flung corners of the globe. The internet and social media have been a wonderful boon, as it’s possible to put the call out in an instant. We did it more than a year ago, so that those who may have been planning a return to this country could plan their visit around the time of our reunion. The response has been very encouraging, with some making the trek back just for this dinner.

We have had a couple of reunions in the past, one notably at a beach resort where we could all let our hair down and party. We were all still in our thirties and those of us who couldn’t manage babysitters had our toddlers and children in tow.

This reunion will be different, I think. Our children have all grown up with most of them having left home, and some of us are grandmothers already. While some are still working full-time, quite a number are retired or semi-retired, and have more time for hobbies and travel. We’re thinking of how we can give back to help those less fortunate, and a big part of the event will be fund-raising for an education fund. I may be wrong, but I think most of us are now beyond dieting furiously, having our hair done or nails manicured just for the event. Most of us never bothered anyway. We’ve purposely kept the program simple and light, so that yes, we can let what remaining hair we have down again. Yes, there’ll be a live band and hopefully some dancing.

I had a ball putting together a souvenir book featuring as many of the classmates as would make a submission, together with an update and photos. I discovered some things about them that I never knew - one of us joined the navy!

After being so heavily involved with the planning, the irony is that I will not be at the event itself. There’s a wedding I can’t back out of happening on the same night in another city. So I’m depending on others to take as many pictures and videos as possible. And hopefully remember all the stories they hear so that they can recount them to me later. There’ll be much sharing of photos and phone numbers, and bragging of children’s accomplishments and number of grandchildren.

There will be laughter for sure, and some tears I suspect. They’ll sing a rousing, if slightly off-key, rendition of the school song, and promise each other that “we must keep in touch, we must have another reunion, real soon!”

At yesterday’s lunch, one of us took a look at another and exclaimed, “Oh, you’re prettier now!” Only a friend, a very old one at that, can tell us the truth like that and we don’t even mind. It’s what going through many of our growing up years together can do, create a bond that always connects us, no matter what.

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