Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reunion Update

I spent more time with the people I went to elementary school with, and the people I went to summer camp and a six-week advanced studies program with, than the people I went to Manchester Central with.  Particularly with the two from Straw School, we spent almost no time talking about anything any of us had done since 1965. I don't even know the general outlines of their lives, only that they are both teachers.

We talked about the things that happened 1959-65, and what had happened to the people we knew.  I learned something of their lives then that I had not realised. We shared some tragic news, some humorous updates, and many "do you remember" stories.

There are very, very few people left in the world who have even a remote chance of recalling those events.  We clutch to them, as a reinforcement that they did really happen; that we do remember them at least approximately; that the person we were, that child we have not seen for 50 years who is ourselves really did exist.  I could have made him up, you see. We learn that even events that happened a few minutes ago have no touch-point, no reality save within our memory.  Perhaps, then, events 50 years ago have no reality at all, and we wander in a barely-populated universe. Joan Blajda and Barbara Letendre* remember a boy with my name, and associate him with me as strongly as I do myself.  They remember things about him that accord with my own story.  Perhaps I am real after all.

The connection with a circle of five friends from HS was almost an entirely separate experience.  Other faces came and went.  I tried to give each a little encouragement as they spent their six sentences on me before moving on.

*Ruth Hamilton was also there, but entirely quiet.  She was quiet then, too.  That adds to the reality, for it is not only the word-people who remember.  I am evidently not a mere construction of words who finally became real in the 1980's.


Gringo said...

I haven't been to a high school reunion, but in recent years have had a number of extended conversations with old classmates and neighbors when I have visited NE.

A classmate whom I have known all my life- call her IshmaelaA- was in town on business several years ago, giving us the opportunity for an extended dinner and conversation. Yes, the early years were of more interest.

In comparing memories, I found an interesting discordance. In my elementary school class of 27, I have kept most with IsahmaelaA and another woman- call her IshmaelaB- whom I have known since second grade. The three of us often got together when I was visiting back in NE. Nowadays none of us live in NE.

In separate conversations in recent years with both IahmaelaA + IshmaelaB, not with the three of us together, I mentioned a tragedy that occurred when we were in elementary school- the death of a friend a year older in a gun accident with his brother. IshmaelaA remembered his death. IshmaelaB did not. One third party explanation I heard was that IshmaelaB's parents did not socialize with the family that had suffered the tragedy.

Michael said...

My recent 40 year reunion was a completely different experience. I had no shared history with these people as I only went to Inter Lakes for my senior year. There were only 70 in my graduating class and about 20-25 came to the reunion. Some had absolutely no idea who I was. The only shared experience we had was 1970-1971 and there was little talk about that. It was mostly where people lived, how many grand children and that sort of thing. It was pleasant. The person I had kept up with the most in the class did not attend. Will I go back for #50? I can't say at this point.

Barbara Freeman said...

So well said, "little boy from 50 years ago". How natural the connection was with you and Joan and even quiet Ruth. And you're right it was not so much reconnecting with the towhead boy with dark rimmed glasses who impressed me with his brilliant mind in the 60's, but the man he is now. I'm glad we shared more than the standard "six sentences" at the reunion. Until the well.