Before I went to my 40-year high school reunion on Saturday I reviewed my old yearbook as if cramming for an exam. I needed to refresh my memory of the names and faces of my classmates.
The yearbook was a handy chronicle of the high school social structure back in 1969. Photographs of the most talented and popular students -- those blessed by looks, personality, and athleticism -- showed them excelling at school government (both the student council and also the tribal roles of Queen and King with accompanying attendants), at sports, and at entertainment (into which one might lump debate and journalism). As I skimmed the yearbook, I once again experienced the feeling of being part of the undistinguished middle of the school hierarchy. Prowess in trigonometry and qualitative chemical analysis did nothing for my social standing (not to mention dating opportunities) back then. We in the undistinguished middle looked with awe and envy at the class leaders, who seemed to be wrapped in a golden aura of social acceptance.
When I arrived for the reunion festivities at the Elks Lodge, I immediately realized that I could discard the notion of a golden aura. Former beauty queens were now cheerful matrons -- quite pleasant to look at but hardly the stuff of nerdish daydreams. I was initially surprised that the former football stars appeared to have shrunken to stocky businessmen of middling height. But then it dawned on me that my vantage point had changed as a result of my adding several inches of growth during my college years.
The class leaders were as confident and outgoing as they were four decades before. They were a jolly bunch to talk with and I enjoyed getting reacquainted with them as people instead of high school celebrities. (I suspect that they would laugh at my silliness about golden auras.)
The best part of the reunion was talking with classmates who had truly deepened in character over the 40 years. I am thinking now of the gracious, caring lady who taught violin; of the bighearted attorney; and especially of the man whose own hard times gave him the wisdom and patience to mentor struggling young adults.
I have a mighty fine high school class. Next reunion in 2014!