Heading home to meet me
Tomorrow night I plan to start the long drive to suburban Los Angeles for my 30th high school reunion.
It’s about 15 hours from here to there, and I’m not looking forward to the trip. I have been thinking a lot about the weekend to come, though. I haven’t been to any previous reunions, and I had not given much thought to them all these years. Easy to get caught up in today. I don’t look back at my last job, never mind school three decades ago. And college friendships were the more lasting anyway, although I’ve drifted from those friends, too.
The 30th is different, somehow. For one, the reunion organizers found me this time. Good job. It couldn’t have been all that easy. Since high school I’ve moved from South Pasadena to Hawaii to Santa Barbara (with winters in Eureka, Santa Cruz and Hawaii) to Quincy (Calif.) to Michigan to Illinois to New York to San Diego to Vail. Whew. I loved the slow motion tour of this great country, but my wife looked me dead in the eye the first day here and said, “Next life or next wife, I’m not moving.” So, nearly six years later, here we are. No complaints.
Last Sunday she and I helped pick up kids and gear from the Battle Mountain High School cross country team’s annual camp at Grand Lake, a couple of hours east of here. The kids had one last run after clearing and cleaning their way out of the cabin where they stayed, which gave us parents a bird’s eye view of adolescent group dynamics from our side of this divide.
I’ve been contemplating my coming encounters with people I have not seen since we were just months older than some of these kids. I remember my old classmates as the teenagers we were in 1975, which calls up a lot of those teen memories. Our children seem so much more poised than I remember us being, or at least feeling.
The mix of watching my kids and remembering the kids I grew up with and then left behind added something to each side. I sensed that I knew today’s teens just a little better and realized that as awkward as I often felt in adolescence, I probably fooled others ” especially grown-ups ” with my own apparent poise. Only, those adults probably weren’t fooled at all.
This is what might make the 30th more special. Many of us have our own kids in or just out of high school, and we’ve watched them through the lense of our own experiences in that yeasty time. We’re also right about at the midpoint of our lives. Taking stock becomes more important, maybe. Nostalgia is creeping in, like a damn thief if you ask me. Till now, I’ve been a lot more concerned with now and the future. Still, there’s so much left to do, although I’m not sure I’m as eager for the places yet to go. This place is the first to really feel like home. But my challenges in work and life all remain fresh and exciting, if sometimes wearying. I ain’t ready to rest. Therefore I’m still a kid. Right?
But 15 hours away lies the passage of three decades, and then the memories that have been revealing themselves on their own pace and with varying degrees of clarity. It’s really fascinating. I’m headed home to meet me.
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