After spending two days leading up to my fifteenth high school reunion blogging about my anticipation and anxiety connected thereto, I figured I owe you a bit of a recap. So. Here it is.
It was a really lovely evening. We Class of '96-ers gathered in the Dalton basement in the room where I once upon logged a lot of time playing my trumpet during orchestra practice. It was a bit odd and more than a bit meaningful to spend time in that room once again after all these years. The turnout was not immense, but solid. I saw many people from my past. And, remarkably, I managed to speak to most of them. What amazed me - really amazed me - was how warm everyone was (or seemed). I anticipated a good deal of artifice and pretense and it just wasn't there. I envisioned traces of cattiness leftover from our teenage days, but no. There was just wine and smiles and conversation.
Yes, conversation. As some of you know, I went into the night hoping for authenticity and realness. I feared that the night would be stuffed with flimsy small talk. And there was some of that, sure, but mostly there were good, sturdy interactions, neither superficial nor serious. They were somewhere in between, these chats. And this realization itself was worth its weight in gold - or Dalton blue as the case may be. The realization that there is a land between superficial and serious, between perfunctory and profound, a land where real things are said even if they aren't entirely revealing. A good land.
In this in-between land we danced. Trading bits of our bios. Remembering our Dalton days. Who we were before we went to college and then entered the world, this world, which houses us all today. We talked about predictable stuff - cute babies and frustrating jobs and the passage of time. We laughed - nervously and genuinely and much. We didn't quite say it, but I think we all thought it, or at least I did: This school had something to do with this, with this medley of good and interesting people gathered here.
Because, really, it can't be a coincidence. We are all different creatures, sure, but we were all nurtured for so many years in the very same place. In this place, we learned how to think and to write and to talk. In these classrooms, we began to be who we are today.
Who are we today?
That is not an easy question. Of course it isn't. But the best questions, it seems, are the tough ones, the ones without ready borders. And I cannot answer this one. What I can say is that on Friday, I got a glimpse of many people whom I once knew - some well, some barely. And that glimpse was wonderful and inspiring and, yes, lovely.
Yes, that word again. Because in this instance it is the right one.
How have your reunion experiences been? Do you think the schools you attended have had something important to do with who it is you've become?