Reunion Required Reading · 5 August 2012
I forgot to do my homework. When 2012 rolled around, I should have gotten out my old high school yearbooks (we called them annuals back then) and started looking at them. I should have done more than scan through the pictures at the last minute as if I was cramming for some exam. If I had, I would have caught up with a few more people beforehand (at least electronically via Facebook or email) and attended both days of the reunion. But I can learn lessons from my missed homework and hopefully pass on some wisdom to others.
After 30 years, looking at pictures of my classmates did not do much good. Some people had not changed a bit (classmates can insert names here). Others had gotten a little squishy or more defined around the edges (I certainly would not put names here). And at least for me, there were folks who I could not place until I either looked back in the yearbook (sorry Paul) or somebody else told me I just needed to put a cowboy hat on him to remember (sorry John). I am sure that even those who did do their homework before the reunion had similar recognition (or non-recognition) experiences.
The homework that I really should have done though is to reconnect with people beforehand. I know not everybody is on Facebook (yet), but I could have started more conversations with people I am already friends with and looked up others via the reunion group the organizers started. (They did a great job with the whole reunion.) I know that unless we had already been keeping in contact, most of us are really strangers with a shared portion of history, but I believe the saying that strangers are just friends we have not met yet. Or in the case of old classmates, strangers we met long ago. In some cases, people really were strangers who we had probably just seen in the hallways a bunch of times. After all, our graduating class did have nearly 500 people in it.
If I had done a thorough job on my homework (instead of neglecting it then cramming), I would have read through some of the nice words people had written in my yearbook and asked about those comments to help facilitate reconnecting. I am sure I would have shocked people asking them if they really meant the wonderful words they wrote. After all, people write innocuous, silly, flattering, or heart-felt sentiments in yearbooks. Sometimes they write all the above.
So to reconnect with people and their own words, I would have asked Lee if he really was glad we got to meet and spend time together. I would not have asked Dianne if she was truly inspired by my faith, but I could have continued the conversation her yearbook comment started. And of course, I could have started a conversation with many people saying that I have indeed had plenty of great summers since they wrote those words you write when you cannot remember how you know this person who is asking you to sign his yearbook.
Of course even with Facebook and email, we cannot keep in contact with everybody we ever knew. The truism that some people enter our lives for only a moment, others for a short time, and still others for a lifetime is true even in the digital age where geography means nothing in terms of keeping in touch. We really cannot have hundreds or thousands of best friends. We must choose who we spend time with. Even digitally. I, for one, am glad I am not everybody’s best friend. It would be too exhausting. After all, relationships take lots of time and hard work (which is a completely different subject).
I guess that last thought is the wisdom I take away from not doing my homework. I need to spend more time working on the relationships I value most. I need to talk more with my family and friends. I need to strengthen the bonds I already have by investing time into the people I love. And I need to reconnect with others from way back when.
I really do wish I had done my homework. It would have made a great reunion even better. Hopefully, I will do some before the next reunion. Until then, maybe I can get a little extra credit for a blog post.
© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Published 7 August 2012 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News
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