Sitting down at my computer early in the morning and drinking a cup of coffee is a ritual that I follow religiously. Browsing my habitual news and entertainment websites each morning not only gives me the chance to catch up on what’s currently going on in the world, but this “alone time” also allows me to reflect on what today’s agenda holds for me.
Today, that agenda includes mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, paying bills and maybe, just maybe if time permits, fixing a loose faucet. You know, grown-up stuff.
But this morning, I can’t seem to get myself focused. The news websites and celebrity gossip just doesn’t interest me at all. Rather, I find myself looking at the dozens of Facebook posts and pictures from yesterday’s 25th high school reunion picnic that I attended.
Yesterday. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were all sitting in class together? Each of us spending as much time as possible in our own little clicks: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the geniuses, the geeks, the stoners, the in-betweens. (I’ll leave you to figure out which of these clicks fit me)
As I watched the attendees (my classmates) arriving one by one, it was as if time stopped. People I haven’t seen since the days of Pac Man and Members Only jackets seemed to appear out of no where. Although we are all now long since grown, I found myself feeling more youthful than ever just being around them.
Handshakes and hugs weren’t just a means of saying “Hello”. For me, the feeling behind each was much more than that. Imagine losing something that you valued for a quarter of a century and then suddenly finding it again. That’s what each reunion felt like.
“Do you remember the time….” seemed to be the five words that started many conversations.
I could write a novel on all of the wonderful reunions I made personally (and who knows, maybe some day I will), but for now, let’s just say that we talked a lot about yesterday, where our journeys in life have taken us and what our hopes and dreams are for the future. Each of us had something different and interesting to say and the hours quickly flew by.
At one point during the day, the heaven’s opened up and it began to rain steadily; forcing us all under a pavilion. In retrospect, it was probably the best thing that could have happened, because it drew us all closer together. It literally was the perfect day.
Truth be told though, I was a bit worried only about one thing: I figured at some point during a discussion with a classmate, sooner or later, someone was going to say something to me that would hit a nerve and the joyful emotions inside would make me have to walk away somewhere lest I become a quivering mess right in front of them. Not cool. I came pretty close a few times but was able to hold it together and was beginning to think I’d make it through unscathed.
But as daylight turned into dusk, I noticed a girl, well now a woman, sitting at a picnic bench making small talk with her friends. A person who graduated with me and someone I remember mostly not from high school, but rather from attending third grade elementary school together. A school that was subsequently torn down in 1979 and caused many of us to separate and transfer to other schools for a year.
Her name is Beth and we both took clarinet lessons after school thirty-five years ago. She and I had both spent many an afternoon in the school’s basement together with an ornery teacher who berated us every time we played a note incorrectly. It’s funny how all of these years later, that one particular memory still sticks out in my head.
Beth and I were never “friends” in high school. We were more like two people who might have just said “Hey” to each other in passing on our way to biology class; on a good day. I haven’t seen her at all since graduation and, quite honestly was a bit apprehensive about going up to her. (Someday, I swear I will outgrow this shyness). But, the thought of this being my only chance to ask her about clarinet class was all the incentive I needed. I went over, sat down next to her and we immediately reunited. She remembered me and we quickly caught up on what we’ve been up to.
And then it happened…
“Do you remember when we used to have clarinet class together in elementary school?”, I asked.
“Porter School!!”, she replied. “Yes, I do remember being in clarinet class with you! I loved Porter School.”
Now, I don’t know if it was the emotion of the high school reunion finally hitting me, Beth saying the words “Porter School” or the way she talked about the school we both attended and loved when we were 8 years old that triggered it, but something inside of me at that very moment said: “Prepare for waterworks!” and I soon found myself having to tell her that I’d be right back.
I spent the next few minutes alone in the bathroom composing myself. Of all things, talking about a silly clarinet class at a high school reunion triggered it.
I shouldn’t say “silly” because I was actually glad that it happened. I think we all need to feel emotion like that in our lives to remind us that we’re human.