Saturday afternoon and evening was spent in the company of 10 high school classmates and their families, most of whom I’ve not seen for over 25 years. A few of them who still socialize threw together a quick little family picnic in the space of a few months. It was held at Brandywine Outfitters, which is owned and operated by one of the party-throwers.
Invitations were made by email and personal phone calls. It was assumed that many of the classmates would not be able to come due to the last minute nature of the party. The problem was getting an alumni database for the class was like pulling a tooth! Nonetheless, the party-throwers were not to be thwarted. There was a ton of food; hamburgers, hotdogs, 3 salads, a roasted pig (absolutely delicious), a keg of beer, water, soda, chips, pretzels, salsa, a veggie tray and an excellent sheet cake.
I was a bit nervous to see most of the people there since it had been so very long. Only 10 classmates showed up (3 women, 7 men) with their spouses and children in tow. Two of the classmates I’d seen and spoken to recently so I readily recognized them. But of the rest I knew only one because he looked exactly the same as in school but now has a solid gray head of hair. I was curious to hear what direction people took as careers and where they lived. Their career choices surprised me. Apparently more than a few of them continued to socialize on a regular basis and while listening to the stories of their exploits of younger days…they didn’t surprise me though I was shocked at some of the stupidity of their actions. I was deeply saddened to learn about those mates who have died or had fallen into the grip of drug addiction or were divorced (some multiple times). Some mates regaled us with stories of former teachers who had affairs with students or lived secret lives.
This little get together helped me realize several different things. First of all, I lived a sheltered and naive life then and continue to now. In this I am not disappointed. I think I prefer it. Listening to one mate relate their philosophy of life, that the “now” is what is important, made me shake my head in wonderment. Sure I agree we shouldn’t dwell on the past, but to not care about the future, let alone the eternal just didn’t jive with me. Secondly, I realized that those mates who were “good people” at their core then, still are “good people” at their core now. Those who were, excuse the phrase, smacked-a**es in school, still are smacked-a**es. That was abundantly clear. Thirdly, I’ve dwelled too much on my past mistakes and have hauled that millstone for far too long. I left it at the camp ground Saturday night when I left.
And lastly as I reflected back on how I felt about different mates in 1977, I realized how totally off base I was. Looking back with grown up eyes, well…I’m glad I lived a sheltered life and had the friends I did then. I still live a sheltered life and have the blessed friends I do (they know who they are). I didn’t miss a thing then…nor now.