I had always hoped to make it to this reunion, but when it was announced that it was to be held in Orlando rather than on LI, I bristled, pushed back a bit, and thought "UGH! No way I'm going to a reunion in Orlando! I had waited a very long time to even go back to visit LI. My only ties there had been my parents, who died in 1987 and '88. Twenty-three years later, it was to be the nostalgia trip that I longed for, so the disappointment was great. I had wanted to see my house, our school, and various other LI landmarks that represented my youth.
I never went back to live on LI after college, except for a couple of months the summer of '66 after graduating from college. Of course, I visited my parents over the years who had moved to Sayville, and I'd occasionally do that tiny nostalgia tour, but 23 years is a long time. I needed to revisit the stomping grounds of my youth!
But reason prevailed and I ultimately decided to attend the reunion, even if I had to go solo. I'm a big girl now! I knew my DH would have hated it, so that was never part of the bargain. But my best friend from 4th grade on and I met at the airport, roomed together, and had the absolute BEST time!
So here are some thoughts about why this reunion was important and special to me....and perhaps to others for similar (or very different!) reasons:
- 50 years is a very long time!
- We are not kids anymore.....in fact 90 of our 600+ classmates are deceased. Many served in Vietnam; many didn't return.
- The social tension of our youth is no longer there; competition for acceptance and social inclusion has long passed. What remains is a lifetime - many lifetimes - of people we once cared about or perhaps didn't even know.....or perhaps didn't want to know back then.
- What remains is a history of each individual's lifetime of accomplishments and disappointments, all of which are interesting, especially from the perspective of this career counselor. Everyone has a story!
- Most people are retired - but not all! Some still work because they love it, need it, have to work, or just can't give it up. Many had varied careers. The surprises came from some who seemingly had no ambition in HS and yet created extraordinary lives and careers for themselves. Some who appeared to have it all in HS had less than illustrious careers. Some had multiple marriages; some were long-term, like mine (46 years!) Some matchmaking took place - right at my table! Hmmmm.....that was especially fun! Some came with spouses who were equally interesting. Some came alone for the gamut of reasons.
- Some found our HS crushes. Several of mine were there; we talked and danced, and it was fascinating! One gentleman, whom I never knew in HS, declared that he had had a crush on ME! Some of my buddies were there. Loved catching up with them.
- Some neighborhood pals were there. I remember walking to school with some of them or taking the bus with them at an earlier age. Some went to the same Carriage House Annex from 1st grade on with me, on the site where Massapequa High School eventually was constructed (probably some 60 years ago!)
- Someone said, "Weren't you the Valedictorian?" NO WAY!!!! And that led to a discussion of who was. No one remembered who the Valedictorian and Salutatorian were. They were not there in any event.
But the overwhelming feeling upon saying good-bye to so many people and realizing that for the most part, we will NEVER see one another again...was sadness! And gratitude....that I have lived this long, that I've had a long and varied work history, a loving family of whom I am inordinately proud, a devoted husband of 46 years, many friendships that have endured (new and old), and knowledge that I did good! Yes, the reunion was a hoot, and I am grateful to the organizing committee who worked diligently to locate so many of us and arrange a perfect venue, food, entertainment, etc. Yes, we relived some amazing moments in HS, and now I have a whole new group of FB friends, but the fact remains that reality is back! So we go on with our lives and all these fond memories will recede into the past - but I guess that is the way it's supposed to be!
Thank you, MHS '62, for an awesome HS experience then and at our 50th reunion!