A few weeks ago I attended my 25 year high school reunion in South Bend. I hadn't seen most of the people since the 10 year and some since I graduated. Going into it there were a handful of people I really wanted to connect with.
Here are a few random observations from the event:
- I was reminded, quite beautifully, that there are a few people who, though I may not have talked to them in years, genuinely care about me. There's a lot to the fact that I don't want anything from them professionally, no networking or any of that other stuff. Inside of that weekend, I reconnected with what it feels like to care for someone for no other reason than I feel like I know this core truth about them that is awfully hard to hide over the course of four years of high school. I don't know if I would call it love but it's a pretty endearing affection.
- I had a great high school experience with a relatively normal family life. We had our share of probs, but I looked forward to going home to my family each day. It was really revealing when one person in particular told me about how difficult and despairing the high school experience was.
- Some parts of all of us haven't changed and thank God for that. In high school, I was great at making people laugh, I still am. When asked how I've changed from high school, I actually started with how I haven't and this is one of my personality I cherish most. I think the core things that most of us had in high school are still there, guiding us in some way. The difference amongst us seemed to be the perspective or point of view on the experiences we've had since then.
- It was interesting to see the hard partiers. I have zero against them. It was fascinating to see the ones that seemed to just be blowing off steam as well as the others who seem to be still living la vida not so loca and not so fun. Having led that life in a really dark way, I'm pretty good at spotting the difference, it's a bit sad to see when I see the signs that someone is also living that life.
- Related to that, it was awesome to connect with people who had problems in their family similar to problems I've faced. I felt in some way I was a small help to them in understanding what is at a minimum perplexing and more likely divisive and destructive.
- While our new high school is really cool looking, all modern and clean it's not St. Joe. Call me a curmudgeon, that will never change for me. On the upside, we were the Indians when I went there and we still are. Unnecessary PC has not found its way into the St. Joe athletics program.
- I've only kept in touch on a somewhat regular basis, with one person since high school. There were lots of promises to keep in touch at the party. While it would be great if that would happen the odds aren't very high. I can't tell you exactly why, as I felt really close to a number of them, but we each have our lives. Being on the west coast may have something to do with it too. Many of them keep in touch with each other and that's awesome. But only one man has been through the wringer with me and he also happens to be the one guy I've spoken to since the reunion (yes I know 2 way street!!).
- I didn't much care about what people were doing, I cared more about what they've become. I experienced a few connections where I was almost overwhelmed by their huge hearts, real salt of the earth people. I think part of that may have come from the ease that I felt about not really caring what others thought of what I did or even who I am because I'm more often than not comfortable in my own skin. And several of my high school friends have become amazing men and women.
- While I will almost certainly never move back, I can finally admit that South Bend is a pretty cool place. Yes, diversity is defined as white people and tanned white people. Yes, other than ND football there is almost nothing to do. But I'll be damned if the people who live there aren't some of the finest people you'll find. They are so genuine it's almost not believable. There's a feeling I get when I experience just walking around a town like South Bend and it's not at all the feeling I get when I walk around San Francisco, a city which I love.
I will remember quite a bit about the reunion and the experience. Ironically, the thing I will remember most about that weekend was an amazing conversation that I had with my niece that had nothing to do with the reunion. It was tender and loving, the kind of thing that absolutely reminds me of the power of family. Likewise, I was reminded of the power of relationships with a long lasting and deep foundation.
I will probably never see lots of my high school peeps again. And, candidly, I'm conflicted about that. I honestly don't really know how to pick up the relationship again. But if the only thing I get out of that reunion was 2 days of feeling the warmth and insight of some of the connections I felt, it was more than worth it to go.