Here is some free advice: Do everything you can to avoid attending someone else’s class reunion. No one wants to meet anyone new at a class reunion; everyone is there to see their old friends. And, the person who brings you as the “plus one” will ignore you during the reunion to spend time with his/her old friends. Unfortunately, I failed to heed my own advice on two occasions, when I attended David’s class reunions with him. David and I are not the same age, we are not from the same hometown, and there is no reason for me to go to his class reunions. However, the last reunion David attended was an informal multi class reunion. It was held in a hotel lobby lounge and advertised on social media; anyone who went to his high school near the time David went there was welcome. As expected, I was sitting or standing by myself most of the evening, looking around at all of the classmates getting reacquainted with one another. A man and woman approached me and the woman asked, in a twangy Southern drawl, “Well, who do you belong to?” Fortunately, I am quick on my feet and I answered, “I belong to no one. I am of the universe.” (As an aside, “I am from the universe” is a lyric in the song, “Yer Blues” by my favorite band, The Beatles, and it is something I say on a frequent basis.) The Southern belle who asked the question was stunned, but sadly, not speechless. She rephrased her question, this time asking me, “Well, who brought you here?” Knowing this to be a question I could answer, I pointed across the room at David and said, “Him, but I do not, nor will I ever, belong to him or anyone.” Mercifully, she let it go at that, but it wasn’t long after our encounter that her husband asked me if I wanted to leave the reunion with him and go someplace quiet for dinner. I politely declined, thinking to myself, “I am of the universe, but for now, my universe is right here.” Do you belong to anyone? Or are you, like me, your own person? Think about it.
Sometimes, you just don’t know how things are going to play out. This was as a class reunion for a (my) dysfunctional high school class, the only get together since the staid 11½ year reunion – and now this attempt, at about 37 years post graduation. It started innocently enough as an idea between a friend and myself – neither he nor I live in our “hometown” but we were to be there on the same weekend. I used Facebook to ask our “friends” if anyone was interested in meeting up and got a few yes responses so Steve and I researched some location possibilities that would accommodate a small group of unknown size. The size grew a bit when we opened it up to graduates of the school from other years. This allowed siblings of ± 3 years of my class to attend. Lots of us had younger/older siblings at this school because it was K-12. Melissa agreed to attend because Steve, the friend who helped organize it, was one of 2 friends on “my side” at our small wedding. (The other friend would later join us that night for the “after party.” ) Having left town (Jacksonville) in 1989, with only 1 or 2 exceptions, this group of people were people I had not seen in nearly 40 years. Recognizing each other was not a big problem, or as big of a problem as it would have been if our class had been large. (My class was only 53 or so people – several of whom have passed away already.) Recognizing people from other classes was more difficult in that we did not necessarily know each other well “back when.” The school was unique for reasons I won’t address, but this meant some of us in the group of people had certainly gone in “different directions” in life. Having organized the event, I tried to circulate, leaving Melissa with my brother, and some of the aforementioned more familiar friends; I thought she would be safe. She was not, as it turned out. But, who knew? I’m sure the woman who approached Melissa was shocked by the response she got to her question. I am sure she did not mean the question in the most negative way it was received by Melissa, but it demonstrate how many worlds apart people can be in their conceptions of life. And, if there is a next time, I am sure I’ll go solo.