It’s normal to be wary of a class reunion but don’t let that wariness turn into distress or disdain. It’s only a party and a kind of interesting one at that. The 35th high school reunion for my class was extremely welcoming and warm. Sure I was a little disoriented but I bet everyone was. These people both are and aren’t the same kids I went to school with for about 12 years. It does remind you that we’re getting older. People have died and we all will eventually but there’s still time to live large and give each other a pat on the back for making it through this far. God knows high school didn’t prepare us for AIDS, Cancer, divorce, addictions and mental health issues. Well, maybe it did prepare some of us for addictions but we are a resilient bunch. We take what we get and make it into art, money, love, a family, and our own humanity.
Here is what I wore to the reunion. I wanted to look 1977 without having to buy anything or try too hard. That’s my brother in the back of the photo. He can not believe how much attention I need to stay alive!
I know that some of you just couldn’t come so I don’t want to make you feel bad. Not everyone has the time or money or mounds of self esteem to spend on this kind of event but this particular investment paid off for me. I don’t trust the stock market but I know I need to invest in relationships. They help in ways that can’t be measured. I found at least one or two that I would like to reinvest in. Besides it’s good for me to remember my roots. I am who I am today because of these people and where I grew up. Some might say despite these people but it’s the same thing isn’t it? Trying to conform or get approval and trying to break away are reactions to our environment.
Anyway it was a beautiful thing. First off the lighting was low which is much appreciated by skinny white ladies like myself who are conscious of their facial crevasses. The balloons reminded me to take things lightly and lent just enough MHS touch to The Gloucester House that we might have been in the old cafetorium if it still existed. The last time I actually was in the cafetorium it was during the sale right before they razed the place. I got a copy of The Last Unicorn marked MHS and caught up with Mike Rodier on the stage where we did Love Rides The Rails. Hats off to the planning committee who did not decide to go with a hornet’s nests theme.
I’ve never been married so I sometimes fear that I will be surrounded by couples and feel loserish. It turned out that the couples who attended like The Averills, Holly Hoffman and her very gracious husband ,(whose name I can’t remember but he wore a stunning salmon shirt), were lovely. Other folks came in different sets like the Willwerths, Richardsons and Maroney twins. I especially liked that Arden Donovan brought her brother Daren. I asked Lee Goodwin if she would like to come with me but it was too early after Dan’s death. He was missed. His buddies were there – Rick O. B., Craig Geary, Jeff Bishop. They hold the flame for you Dan.
I was very proud to be one of three women who had attained ultimate greyness. Liz Welch and Susan Walsh sported it well. Speaking of which I don’t think I ever noticed how Irish many people were when I was a kid. I just assumed most people were because I was. When I look at Sue Walsh I see Ireland in her eyes. There isn’t much of that in Alaska. It’s something I miss.
I thought it might be funny to come up with new nicknames at our reunion. When I saw Don Emery all I could think of was “Forty feet of rubber” because he used to annoy my mother no end leaving intentional skid marks in front of our house. His new name could be” Self care man” because he has been working with some health issues and frankly looked fabulous. I would call Kathy Silva ” Waterfall woman” as her tresses still astound, rippling down her back and her voice still has that fresh tingle tone like a fountain. I would be “The Ivory toothpick” or perhaps “Woman who dresses brighter than she feels.” I was thinking that as a town Manchester should be conceded to The Willwerth clan. Therefore they should invest in clan kilts and wear them in The Fourth of July Parade, to claim their domain. Their motto could be “There will always be more of us than there are of you!”
It was hard to talk to everyone given that there is so much to catch up on but each reunion becomes less bounded by old barriers such as school success, money and appearance. Look at these two absorbed in each other. You can tell they care about what each other is saying. That means a lot these days.
Also note that although Kathy Kiley was not at the reunion, jewelry she made was worn by Holly and others. The best way to avoid people talking about you is to show up Kathy and bring some jewelry. I had my check book! Not all of the conversations were serious. I think some people just know how to have fun better than I do. These two ladies below were funny enough in school and still had us laughing. I was doing the laughing/crying thing as Elaine was holding court on sex, Viagra and roommates, (sorry, not all in the same story.)
Guys got to bond too. Some of us hadn’t seen Gabe Bernson in awhile. The memory that sticks in my mind is Mister Boyd throwing him out of class for some wise remark. He had to stand outside the class in the snow by the tennis courts so Mister Boyd could keep an eye on him. He looks much warmer now,
I had a good conversation with Stuart Parsons who teaches at a theological college. I saw photos of Dick Prouty’s children. I heard that Nathan Proctor is touring New England with the carnival. I sometimes wish I could move back here but lots of us leave and have adventures that Miss Bachman could not have planned. Here are two of my favorite ladies. They move with grace and ease between groups and each have their feet on the ground. More importantly, they are both as my mother would say,” Hot Tickets”.
So what that one of the speakers was blown. We got to hear Arden do some stand up and I forced people to sing the Manchester Hymn.The slide show gave us something to talk about like the folks who weren’t there. We knew about Peter Vasapoli, (who looked great in the sailor suit photo I found from Anything Goes). We knew that Kathy Kelly was on her way to see The Olympics. Andy Dulavitz was stuck out on an oil rig, and that Kiley was not answering her phone in an undisclosed location. What you may not have known is that the food was a far cry from garbage soup. Who knew that it was legal to wrap bacon around a scallop? That’s just not done in Alaska. We smoke everything up there, and when I say everything you know what I mean. But now I’m getting silly. Here’s one last photo of a group I took before I left. Can you name them all? When the next reunion comes along you can look at these photos for reference. Remember our reunion doesn’t have a political, altruistic or financial focus. It’s not a duty. It’s focus is fun, just like the play of children. This is how they learn. That’s what it was, fun and an opportunity to learn about assumptions, things you couldn’t see for the life of you and joy . See you next time or come visit me in AK before then!