I recently attended my high school’s 40th reunion in Indianapolis, the first such reunion I’ve traveled to. While I didn’t graduate from North Central High having moved to Clearwater, Florida during my junior year, these are all the people that I grew up with, many I hadn’t seen in the 42 years since I moved. I had one basic reaction:

Wow we all look so old!

It’s funny when you have the image of someone in your mind’s eye when they were 16 years old and suddenly, you’re standing in front of the 58-year-old version! I’m sure many of my classmates experienced the same thoughts when they saw me.

I found the guys easier to identify than the gals. Gals change their hair color and their makeup. Their faces change too. Thank God for the name tags with our high school pictures affixed to them. Guys basically look the same, albeit with less (or no) hair and an expanded mid-section. Except of course, my good friend Mike Fox, who is in better shape now than he was in high school.

Born in 1963-64, the last year of the baby boom, my graduating class was just under 1,200 students. Many I never knew. Fortunately, several of the ones I did know were part of the 250 or so that showed up for the reunion.

It’s funny how we revert to our old selves when in each other’s presence. The same cliques sat at the same tables – just like in the school cafeteria so many years ago. The same stories were told about the same events, although over time the happenings became bigger than life and greatly exaggerated.

A synagogue youth-group classmate cornered me about her skill talking to animals, and how they can reveal secrets to a happy life. I chuckled until I realized she was serious. Oy vey. My cousin thankfully saved me from that conversation.

Because my friends are on Facebook, I was able to identify them at the reunion, but it was different in person – in fact much better than I expected. Facebook keeps people connected who otherwise wouldn’t be, for which I’m grateful. It’s been fun following the marriages, careers, birth of grandchildren and family events. Less so learning of divorces and deaths. Instead of engaging in an awkward conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in years, I was able to ask about recent events in their lives, and they asked about mine. It was totally enjoyable.

I was saddened by a poster with the names of more than sixty deceased classmates. Some I knew about, others I didn’t. Three teammates from my Little League baseball team are gone. Apparently, one died of an overdose, homeless under a bridge. Another from cancer, and a third in a car accident.

Life can be cruel.

Life can also be forgiving. Now 40 years past high school graduation, it doesn’t matter anymore who has achieved what. It was just great to see each other again. This is a wonderful stage in life. Too old to care about individual achievements, young enough that we’re not yet decrepit, and wise enough to be grateful for the little things.

Will I attend another one? Right now, I don’t think so. One is enough every 40 years, isn’t it? I can always contact those I want to keep in touch with. Besides, I hope to be busy watching my own daughters develop their families.

What about Patti? She thankfully stayed behind as all this would have bored her to no end. I stayed with my aunt who had me go through a box of pictures my grandmother kept. I found some good ones of my mother (now deceased) and father when they were young. I’ll leave you with my high school graduation picture.

I haven’t changed much in 40 years, have I? Haha!!!

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