Last weekend was my 20th high school reunion. For a long time I was ambivalent about attending, but as it drew nearer and I gradually started to reestablish contact with a wider circle of old friends from high school, I was genuinely looking forward to it. It turned out to be a great time. I spent Friday night with some of my closest friends from high school, some of whom now have official Friends of Pipeline merchandise. I was amazed at how quickly I didn’t feel like we were catching up, and instead were just laughing, telling stories, and generally getting along the way we did 20 years ago.
I had the same general experience the next night at the official reunion. People I used to enjoy talking to, I still enjoyed talking to, usually even moreso because 20 years has given us all varying degrees of additional wisdom. And I found new people, people I knew in high school but never really had a substantive relationship or even conversation with. I had a number of those conversations, some long, some just short 30 second fly-bys when you are in the same conversation circle, that made me realize how much I missed the boat by not getting to know more people back then.
Mostly, though, I found I missed my high school friends and general acquaintances more than I realized. For some reason I’ve always, or at least since I left Kansas in 1993, been very aloof about most of my high school experiences and Topeka in general. Within a year of graduation I was only in contact with a couple of friends; only one person from my high school years was at my wedding. Virtually all of my current life involves people I met after high school. As a result, it sometimes seems as if high school was another lifetime. The reunion made me feel a bit ashamed for thinking that way. My life didn’t start after high school. I remembered, again, where and when I grew up with these people, and I remembered why we all became friends in the first place. To think that I was ambivalent about having that experience makes me feel like a total donkey.
As it turned out, that wasn’t the only reunion I was to have last weekend. My uncle Herschel had been terminally ill for some months, and he finally succumbed to cancer on Friday morning, when I was still about an hour out of town. After I arrived at the hospital I got to see many of my cousins, my grandmother and other family members that I haven’t seen for years. It was a sad occasion, but also a time for the family to come together. I was glad to be there for that.
All in all, it was a heavy few days. It’s a lot of different pasts to reconnect with in one short weekend.