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Where Did Those 30 Years Go?

I was disappointed to learn that a favorite friend would not be attending our 30th year high school reunion this weekend.

A centerpiece of my growing up experience, his reason was: “I just don’t feel like I’ve grown over the past 10 years since our 20th.” I almost laughed but didn’t, knowing how often I have felt the same way in my adult life. I didn’t push him but reminded him that there is hardly one of us who feels that he or she has “made their mark” yet and that we never know when our presence will make a difference in someone else’s life.

I’ve gone to every reunion since we started having them. It’s a strange thing to do, introvert that I am, but for the same reason I used to go to the dances on Friday nights and sit up in a dark corner of the bleachers all alone, I’m afraid I’ll miss something if I’m not there.

But lots of people don’t go to their reunions, usually citing high school as the most miserable time of their life. I can relate. Though I had something to center my experiences around, a safe place, I realize that in my own misery, I didn’t notice much of what was going on around me, the things that made others’ days unbearable. All I know was that my own struggles made me pretty unpleasant to be around sometimes.

So I go to the reunions to atone for how I might have inadvertently hurt others, though when I tell them about the incidents I recall, they graciously act like they don’t remember. But I do, and those memories weigh me down. Having the opportunity to let them know that I was aware of them then does something to heal me, and them too, I hope.

If these 30 years have taught me anything, it’s that change is constant, people die without our noticing, and we will always have more growing to do no matter how many reunions we live to see.

I hope my friend will change his mind and join us at the last minute to engage in meaningless reminiscences and small talk, and maybe a few healing conversations. I know his presence would have great meaning for me….

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Categories: Life
  1. Mama Nance
    June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm | #1

    My favorite part of this piece is seeing the Really? picture again….I love to look at it.
    Some advice from someone that has seen a 30th come and go, don’t waste thoughts on
    who isn’t going and enjoy the ones that do show.

  2. dot shields
    June 21, 2012 at 1:33 am | #2

    I’m going to my 58th reuniion this summer! (Three years ago, we decided not to wait five whole years for our next one … after a series that started at 10th, 20th, 30th, and then every five years until now … I didn’t go to the 10th, but I’ve been at all the others, and weird as the experience seems in many ways, I thoroughly enjoy knowing we’re all virtually the same age, and have so many shared memories … not only from when we were in school together, but also all the big historical/cultural stuff that we’ve ‘shared’ ever since).

  3. June 21, 2012 at 1:42 am | #3

    just attended my 30th. had a wonderful time. many of us keep in touch on fb so the conversation flowed smoothly…. just picking up where we left off. one thing i noticed is that we are all more at ease with ourselves, more accepting, and so much nicer than we were in high school! my h.s. had 72 graduates from the class of 82 and i can honestly say that i love those kids/adults! so glad that i attended, so glad that we have all come to a place where we don’t feel like we have to prove ourselves anymore… so glad that “…change is constant” and that we have done so much growing.

    enjoyed the blog… keep on bloggin’! :)

  4. Sean O’Hearn
    June 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm | #4

    OUCH!! Busted – Well – I’m sure glad you all had a good time ELLEN!! Beautifully written (as always) – sorry I didn’t have ‘the balls’ / wherewithal / ENERGY to attend myself – xoxo

  5. Cheryl Gay
    July 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm | #5

    I just came across this! Sean, we did miss you and you would have loved our reunion weekend, I so wish you’d been there. I wonder sometimes why it doesn’t occur to me to think in terms of what I have accomplished. I am conflicted between thinking I’m too shallow to stop & reflect on who I am and that I’m too smart to question the joy of living every day as it comes. I fear that it’s onto that I am too smart, I think that perhaps I am just shallow enough to enjoy each day as they come without question!

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