Here is the thing about High School reunions, they are as unique as the committee that runs them. Apparently there used to be a business that organised these events for my old school, Washington-Lee in Arlington, Virginia. Economic times have changed and some great core values have moved into the arena of gathering people. It’s back to The Committee! Remember those people? Those few people who organise everything while many of us just show up? We got to have one of those kinds of committees.
Marilyn, Susan, Rob, Cynthia, Lorraine, Betsy worked for over a year to get this event up and running!
They were often more like a search committee. They found the location, the menus, and the music, but this seemed to be the easy part compared to finding alumna and getting people to work together. What a project!
And one of their best decisions was the determination that every class member who wanted to come, regardless of affordability, would be there. They set up a kitty where classmates could donate funds to support anyone who couldn’t afford the Saturday night dinner; the “Banquet.” The expensive big hotel where we had our Senior Prom in downtown Washington DC was not to be the venue. The old Knights of Columbus Hall was selected, and Betsy brought in table decoration plants from her own garden.
The morning of the banquet saw volunteers tying up blue and silver balloons and setting up a welcome station at the door. Someone posted pictures of the old school. A DJ knew her playlist and had done her research with her own parents. The dress code was smart casual, though honestly you could have worn just whatever you had in your closet as long as you showed up and claimed your name tag that was printed by the son of a classmate. Oh, and homes were opened for out of state (out of country) classmates.
Surprisingly for me, I actually knew every member of the Committee- most since nursery school. But “the thing” about my High School reunion that stays in my mind now that the plane has landed and I’m re-entering England and English life, is that no matter who you may have become in life
( Pittsburgh Steelers football player, government worker, high school principal, singer, Pastor, writer, business executive..to name a few), or where you have travelled and lived ( Oh the places we have gone!), or the house you now live in or the car you now drive; when you come to a 50th reunion none of it matters. This is not a 20th reunion. We’re not still working out our rebellion. We know life has it’s ups and downs and are blessed to be here. Some of our classmates left the planet far too early.
At a 50th reunion, whatever you have achieved or even have outstanding on your bucket list; you’re still the one who ate the paste in kindergarten, had a broken nose bandage on the day you played an angel in the first grade nativity play, or bullied someone in the playground or were a first heart throb. We knew each other as basketball players, cheerleaders, or those who made no team but our parents knew each other and perhaps your parents were the ones who drove us around before we could drive. We had so many stories, and at this reunion we shared them. I think we listened well. I hope we did.
I also love how this Committee organised the reunion to be more than a one-night stand. On Thursday night, Cynthia and her truly great husband (serious husband points for all his support) started off the weekend with a dinner for those who had helped plan or did even a tiny bit of work. I got to go merely because I and my daughter and niece were staying at their house. Sitting around the linen covered tables and enjoying a delicious home cooked meal, someone I knew only slightly in High School leaned in and said to the person sitting next to me, “ I have a confession to make.”
Well, we all stopped talking and leaned in. And though the confession made us laugh and set the tone for an honesty we never would have considered possible at seventeen, I will not tell you what she said. We were the only ones who would have understood.