Glass HAlf Full: A high school reunion to remember
June 17, 2015
Last weekend I had the distinct privilege, pleasure and (admittedly) shock of attending my 50th high school reunion at The Thacher School in Ojai, Calif.
OK, in the truest sense, it wasn't my reunion: Thacher was an all-boys school in 1965, and I graduated from Katharine Branson School the following year.
My father was a teacher and administrator at Thacher, however, and I was somehow promoted from 13-year status of "little sister" to somebody more interesting on the first day of my eighth-grade year, their ninth-grade year.
Boarding schools in those days did not embrace significant social outreach; I had the unique opportunity of becoming an extended class member, an honor made official by the class twenty years ago and one I treasure. I've made every 5-year reunion for the last 30 years.
Fifty years witnesses considerable change, does it not? A few weeks ago I chuckled over a Facebook post that said something to the effect of, "Inside every old person is a young person saying, 'What the heck happened?'"
This reunion has been the first where age has been significantly apparent. The Class of 1965 has lost seven class members. Losses came from Vietnam, a car accident, heart attacks/health issues and suicide.
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Classmates have seen great successes in their wide-ranging careers and some surprising failures. Some have lost children and experienced painful divorces. Almost all of our own parents are gone.
We've lost track of some friends; some simply refuse to attend reunion celebrations for reasons of their own. High school memories can vary profoundly, even as we think we are all experiencing the same thing.
Some of us are in great shape, still running marathons, biking long distances, hiking trails. Some of us are retired, some still working.
My old boyfriend was there, the one I dated from sophomore year through my first year of college, when I met Wayne.
A retired Air Force pilot who flew F16s, he once told me that adjusting to a desk job was a real challenge. Alcohol and tobacco have not been kind to him. Three related strokes and a hip replacement have transformed him from a young and vibrant boy to, seemingly, the oldest in the class.
I am grateful for his third wife, who takes such good care of him and talked to me about "in sickness and in health."
She, too, is retired Air Force and perhaps understands better than most just what he has endured. I think she is a saint. I also wonder whether he will be alive five years from now.
Each reunion reveals, within each of these greying (grey!) men, those boys I met 54 years ago. How quickly we returned to comfortable jousting and reminiscing.
We would — and have — done anything for each other. As we celebrate the culmination of eight grade and high school for our local seniors this week, I hope they experience that same gift of friendship for at least the next 50 years.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.