Friendships Over the Years

The end of summer, with its back-to-school activities, has me thinking about my own years in school and what these memories mean to me now. Last spring we had our 50th high school reunion and ever since, group emails have been flying back and forth every day. Reconnecting has been like uncovering an old scrapbook – even with whiffs of mildew, it’s a real treasure trove of memories.

With all the chaotic financial news, it’s nice to be able to reminisce about simpler, more innocent times. Have you noticed how the flavor of your own reunions changed over the years? While the early ones were mostly about individuality – your accomplishments and how thin you looked – the 50th was all about the group – our connections and shared memories.

All our reflective emails have been like tuning in to the oldies but goodies radio stations – a real blast. Although many of us hadn’t spoken to each other in 50 years, it’s been amazing how quickly old relationships have been renewed. Conversations spontaneously spring up and no one has missed a beat. The older we get, the more we enjoy looking back – way back. When we’re not going over what happened in high school, we’re backing up all the way to grade school.

What most of us recognize from our reunion aftermath has been the most significant life lesson of all – about importance of enduring friendships. Not only do they create nostalgia for simpler days when we were young, naive and carefree, but more important they bring meaning and sense of belonging to us.

We’ve made full lives for ourselves in the 50 years after high school but nothing can take away the warm feelings about the times we all spent together. The links that were forged then grew as we did, without us even being aware of the foundation they created. We could begin to define who we were then because we felt secure with and grounded by each other.

As one of my old friends put it in a recent email, Dear New/Old/Very Special Friends, The afterglow continues. It has been such joy to receive all these heartfelt messages. I have been mulling over all the information, the remembrances and stories, trying to understand why this reuniting of friends and classmates has such significance to many of us. I think we see ourselves as we were through the eyes of those we knew when we did not often know how to verbally define ourselves. We have all lived our lives apart but we are bringing forth the essence of ourselves as we knew each other in our formative years. It is so interesting, at this point, to tell our stories, stories we couldn’t articulate when we were young as well as the stories that we have developed over the last 50 years.

We missed the sharing of so many truly world shaping events, socially and politically, and we are interested in knowing how the others viewed these events. We started out together, we parted, we want to review all those years in between. It is fascinating, it is fun, it is touching. We are now seeing who has developed or retained a nostalgic sensibility. Thank you, email, for making this reconnecting possible. Thank you, high school, for making us all learn to type so we can now use our previously unused secretarial skills to free associate with one another. All those enticing but unfinished conversations at the reunion shall continue!

How about you? Has your reunion letter or email come to reawaken your memories of distant days? If you’ve already had an important reunion, you can share your experiences with us here through “comments” below.

And for a glimpse into one woman’s unusual story, please join us on Wednesday, August 24, 2011, when Maureen Hancock visits our blog for a Virtual Book Tour. Her memoir, The Medium Next Door: Adventures of a Real-Life Ghost Whisperer follows her experiences as she strives to balance raising her children and speaking with the deceased.

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