Friday, January 14, 2011

The Distance Bandit

"Are you going to the reunion?" A question that meets with all kinds of feelings, those of dismissal to those of excitement. The class reunion.

My daughter had her 20th last year. She attended and did not have a very good time. The same cliques existed. Not much had changed. My daughter went with the expectations of friends meeting old friend, catching up on lives and making connections all new again. It didn't happen. This is not unusual. I hear this  response often from other friends disappointed by their reunions.

I remember my 10th. I felt very much the same. I was a stranger in a group of those who were once my friends. We had a class of 48 kids. We all knew one another. Those who had lived in the area since high school weren't really interested in what had happened in my life. I, in turn, had not lived those 20 years with these people so was out of the loop. A gap had formed. I left early.

I returned for the next reunion now in my 40's. Children were grown. Classmates were beginning to age. Again I stood on the outside. My old friends seemed to have forgotten the memories we shared. I wanted to go home, but home was gone. Those who were part of my childhood, my struggles as a teen, my closest friends had stayed, and I had moved away.

I don't know if it is distance or time that robs us of those friends who once we considered our kindred spirits, but I do know that distance for me did not erase the love I had for those people. Many people believe in the 'move on' attitude. 'Get a life'. Well, I did move on, but the memories of sleepovers, roller skating, record hops, first loves, are all part of me. I found it sad that no one else cared to remember.

Last year I decided to toss away all preconceived ideas about what would happen at the Alumni Banquet in our old school gym. Returning at sixty-two, I didn't really care if anyone from my class was there. I was just going to attend with my best friend and have a good time. I had barely walked through the door when my name was shouted out. A friend who had lived down the road recognized me. I had been a baby sitter for she and her husband when I was a teen. They moved south, and I got older and moved west. As the night continued, more and more people sought me out. Old friends became new once more. I was home.

I was the only person in attendance from our class. Maybe that is what helped me to realize what was lacking with my own class reunions. Everyone wanted to know all about me and my family. We talked of old times and wanted more time to catch up on lives. The years and miles had melted away. I was again in the arms of the community in which I grew up. Past and present were aligned once more.

I've already been asked if I am going back to the Alumni again this year. Sadly, I am not. Not this year. I look forward to the next time I attend, walking those gym doors again to be greeted by old friends.

I am in touch with those friends from Neff Road. I write my love letters every day.


Janet said...

Pam, I'm going to be taking lots of pics this year. They tell me Franklin will be coming down as soon as the kids are out in the spring. Probably Monroe, too. And then the NEW building will be ready for the kids in the fall. That will be an exciting but nostalgic change for all of us. Sure you don't want a Cat's Meow of Monroe? They have them now. Did you get a letter about the bricks? We're getting one and also one for Aunt Normal.

Pamela Loxley Drake said...

The thought of the school being torn down just hurts. I have a picture of my mother standing with the rubble of the Red River school when it was torn down.

My sisters and I talked about getting a brick for my parents. Normal would love it. So many memories.