Tuesday, November 3, 2009

40th HS Reunion - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Closure

The after party, the dinner with 20 of our closest friends, walking through torrential rain while hugging under an almost-but-not-quite-big-enough-to-share umbrella (why was I the only one who didn't bring a bumbershoot???) capped off by an allergy attack (Himalayan cats have a special big furriness that's gorgeous and deadly) that sent me scrambling home (yes, by now it felt like home) for a shower and a change of clothes..... the night flew by in a haze of your brother did what in the Bush administration? can you believe how much she's changed? she always was the nicest of those girls, wasn't she? and can somebody do the math for the check?

There were three of us in the room that night - a husband's heart attack (can we really be married to people who have heart attacks the night before Reunion?) had changed her roommate's plans and our friend was going to have to camp out in Penn Station unless we took her in. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. Our new roomie's claim to fame (in my world, at least) is that my 9th grade boyfriend took her instead of me to the Spring Dance that year. HE said it was because "her friends made me"; I always knew it was because she was just too cute for words. I was never able to extend the anger I felt toward him toward her - she was just too nice. And here she was, curled up on the bed sharing reminiscences.

The strength of good women never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Her unlined face and comfortable mien belie the sorrows that have plagued her life. There was no self-pity; there were only facts. Facts which could easily have caused her to crumble, but which seem to have done nothing more than inform the person she is today. And that person is pretty wonderful. She's funny and intellectually curious and thoughtful and creative. And now, she's my friend. Not only on Facebook, but, I think, in life as well. This Reunion has done some pretty swell things for me, and she's one of them.

On Sunday, she saved us 20% at Purdy Girl on LaGuardia Place by re-purposing a necklace as a belt; the staff was so impressed that they discounted all our purchases! Outside the store, she posed under the autumn leaves as a beard so that I could take this picture

We giggled about the Yellow Woman all the way to the tony apartment where, yet again, we were meeting friends. M.Robin has fantastic art and interestingly welcoming furnishings and a knack for bringing together diverse segments of our class. The mimosas flowed freely and the conversation was raucous and there was much photography and hugging. She was staying home to watch the Yankees; the rest of us headed to Tribeca for dinner and then bed.

MTF and I were in The City for another day, but that will have to wait for a post on NYC's wonderfulness. The Reunion was over and classmates were departing and there were many plans for future re-groupings. A 60th birthday party when most of us hit that milestone in 2011? Yearly gatherings in different cities? We have SoCal and Florida and the Carolinas and Arizona covered for starters. Oh, yes.... does anyone doubt we're retiring?

These kinds of conversations happen at the end of every event like this, I know. But, somehow, I think that these were less pie-in-the-sky than most. There was a genuine sense that this had been an unusual weekend. Friendships had been rekindled. Neighbors had been revisited. Wounds had been healed and memories had been stoked. Parents and siblings were remembered. The Scary Girls weren't that scary (ok, maybe one of them was.....) and the cliques were less exclusive.

Our Fortune 500 CEO with the beautiful wife and children set a standard for the men that was really hard to touch. His success, I think, freed them to talk about life and love and their hobbies and passions without having to compete for the top of the totem pole.

There wasn't a clear winner amongst the women. Many of us have accomplished great things as physicians and financiers and scientists and educators and authors and and and.... but who's to say that she who waved her baby grandson's picture under every willing (and not so willing) nose with total unabashed delightful glee doesn't consider herself to have the best life possible? That she whose house was too small for kids but now is just right for her to spend the rest of her days there with her much-loved husband hasn't landed in a place that most people would kill for? There are many things inscribed on your permanent record; I think that, by now, the parameters have changed just a little.

And what did I learn? What once was dreadfully important is now less than relevant. People can and often do change for the better. Memories are important but the here and now is much more special. And the old Girl Scout song was right :

Make new friends,

But keep the old.

One is silver

But the other's gold.

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