I am not a sentimental person. I don’t collect photos or scrap books. My office is not covered with pictures of my kids. I don’t have a whole wall dedicated in my hallway to family memorabilia. I didn’t even frame my master’s degree diploma. And I recently threw out close to 100 percent of the clothes in my closet. I try to live in the present. Sometimes I think I’ve even blocked out some of my past. Good riddance, I guess. If it were important, I’d remember it.
But in the past few months, I’ve changed. Why, you ask? Why would a perfectly logical and forward thinking person such as me turn to sentimental mush? No, it’s not due to watching reruns of The Brady Bunch. Or singing some old Beatles tunes. (Though one of them does get to me every time – there are faces I’ll remember… ) And it’s not observing my two kids grow into their mid-20s and away from needing me.
No, the fact is I resisted sentiment and nostalgic feelings until I joined Facebook. That was back in March, and within seconds it seemed, I was discovered by my high school reunion committee. I won’t tell you which reunion year it is for me. Suffice it to say, it has been decades, eons of time since I last saw any of my high school classmates.
So I rather reluctantly attended my reunion a few weekends ago. I say reluctantly because I have gained, shall we say a few pounds since high school. And many wrinkles. And my hair is not deeply hued and luxurious like it was when I was 18. And I am still short; haven’t grown an inch since then. And I knew that at least some of my old pals would look good, better than me, and that I might feel badly about myself in comparison to them. And I thought that, in my self-centered teenage way, people didn’t like me back then and still wouldn’t. Maybe I’d be shunned at the reunion. Maybe no one would talk with me. Maybe the popular crowd would laugh at me.
But I gathered my courage and attended the reunion anyway. And here’s what I found.
I found that I absolutely love my old classmates. That they are friends, and friendly. And there wasn’t a snide or condescending popular crowd or person to be found anywhere. That everyone has aged, some more than others, but no one has been spared the passage of time. I found that everyone has mellowed and become interested only in the reconnection between old friends. I looked at pictures of the old days, and found that I enjoyed even the ones that I was in. That’s quite a feat considering I seek out and destroy any photo that has me in it! I had a wonderful time at a reunion that I had dreaded and almost didn’t attend.
And I find myself now nostalgic. Not for the old days, not for the teenage years with all their angst and self-doubt, the self-loathing and misery that passes over time but seems all there is in life when one is 16 or 17. No, I don’t miss those days. What I miss are the good people with whom I could have stayed connected over all this time. I might have kept and grown the friendships, the love, the caring, the fun, the joy. I might have been of help to friends who lost their way even more than I did. I was too blind to see that these are good and caring people, and always have been. I was blind, but now I see.
And what is it that I see? It’s an ocean of friendly smiles seen through hazy nostalgic eyes. Lit by a full and understanding sea salt moon. Forgiving hands held together, tied to the past. But still here. And very much alive. Continuing on.