A Conversation Interrupted By 40 Years

I left high school forty years ago this past summer like a train shooting out of a dark tunnel. Man, was I happy. I could not wait to get the @#$% out of there and start my life. And I did. I went to college and moved half way across the country to go to graduate school. I made new friends, kept in touch with old friends, got engaged and lost my love to a car accident. I got jobs, moved forward, enjoyed life and struggled with it. All the while my high school classmates were doing the same thing: working, making lives, expanding families, staying in touch.

Class members who were at the street party.

Class members who were at the street party.

The first reunion was too soon and at a country club quite a few of us couldn’t really afford. The second one, after some back and forth about what people could do, happened when Tim Seifert said it could happen at his barn. Every last one after that has been at his farm, where there is now a new house and a party room.

Tim is a master farmer who does seed research among other things...

Tim is a master farmer who does seed research among other things…

All the while, for each reunion, my friend Cammie kept making sure organizers had my name and address, later my email. She sent pictures of each one and told me how much fun they were.

The latest party at the farm in the

The latest party at the farm in the “man shed.”

At the 20th, two people who had been a very hot item in high school, then married other people, met again after their divorces and fell immediately head over heels again. They’ve been married for 19 years now.

Kathryn and Russ run a legal practice together.

Kathryn and Russ run a legal practice together.

I kept putting Cammie off. It wasn’t that I didn’t go back. My parents were there and my mother, brother and sister-in-law still are. I just wasn’t ready. Then about 15 years ago, my friend Kandy got involved. So each time there was a reunion, it was Cammie, Kandy and the emails from the organizers. Cammie is a gentle persistent person. Kandy is a force of nature. After fifteen years I gave in.

Jean is also a major force in these things, organizing and herding...

Jean is also a major force in these things, organizing and herding…

Part of it was the sheer insistence that I would have a good time. Part of it was also the knowledge that we have a limited amount of time to do this. Several people have been sick in the past few years and a few have died. Each time we rallied round via email, letters, and now Caring Bridge, to let people know we remembered and cared. I began to realize that it might be better to give some hugs and hellos to people and that it might in fact be fun. So I RSVP’d that I’d be there. Did I say that these folks hold our reunions over the Labor Day weekend when those who have moved away have a better chance of making it?Poster

I was also interested in the sesquicentennial of the little town I grew up in. I remember the centennial clearly because my father, who was not a hairy man, yielded to the necessity to grow a beard and sported a goatee and moustache for the duration of the celebrations. Kandy’s mother is now mayor of the town and, well, speaking of forces of nature, she was organizing a celebration!

That Tim, he gets around, but so does Mayor Barb!

That Tim, he gets around, but so does Mayor Barb!

It grew to include a parade with floats,

Kandy was Homecoming queen in 1975. Sara (l) and Cammie (r) acted as her court. I think there's a good bet Kandy wore that dress in 1975...

Kandy was Homecoming queen in 1975. Sara (l) and Cammie (r) acted as her court. I think there’s a good bet Kandy wore that dress in 1975…

my classmate Gregg’s band, Dang, and what appears from photos to be one devil of a street party.

Gregg (l) brought his band up from St. Louis.

Gregg (l) brought his band up from St. Louis.

There were even hula hoop demonstrations.

Go Adrienne!

Go Adrienne!

I had intended to be there for all this, but, alas, the airlines had other ideas. I managed to get there for the party at Tim’s farm, but missed the 150th anniversary events. I saw people I hadn’t seen for forty years. Some of them looked exactly the same.

Mike, I don't want to reference Dorian Gray, but geez...

Mike, I don’t want to reference Dorian Gray, but geez…

We caught up with each other and exchanged notes.

Liz and Candy catch up.

Liz and Candy catch up.

Some of us put on funny hats.

Okay, Tim put on a funny hat. After he tried to get Kathryn to put it on.

Okay, Tim put on a funny hat. After he tried to get Kathryn to put it on.

Some put on shirts they wore in eighth grade…

Even he looks like he doesn't believe it.

Even he looks like he doesn’t believe it.

…while others looked on in amazement.FullSizeRender_5 2

Some of us were caught in the act of taking selfies.

IMG_9477

I should add that while this was a high school reunion, many of us have known each other practically since the beginning of…well our time.

Sara, Cammie and I have been friends since Kindergarten.

Sara, Cammie and I have been friends since Kindergarten.

I talked to the person I sat next to the whole year in Mrs. Carter’s first grade class. He owns a farm implement company and has a son who’s a CPA. And I once cracked his head with Fred’s in the coatroom. They were good enough not to tell on me.

Les owns a farm implement company.

Les made me point myself out in our class pictures.  I don’t think he remembered me.

I am an introvert, so a party is something I have to prepare for. I did not get to talk with everyone I would have liked to, but we all have each other’s email addresses now. I think I’ll be in a little better touch. (All photos except the third by Kandy/Jim Bernal.)

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37 Responses to A Conversation Interrupted By 40 Years

  1. Kandy says:

    What a wonderful tribute to our town and our class Lisa! For years we have missed your presence and now it feels complete. Welcome back to the fold! ❤️

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  2. Lisa, good for you for going! I, too, had my 40th reunion this year. I could not attend, and so I’ve got an unbroken record of no-shows. But the organizers started a Facebook page and it’s been interesting to see what others are doing (though I have to admit that there are a good many people I just don’t remember – how weird is that??). Our Class of ’75 has lost quite a few too. Seems so surreal. So you’re decision to go now and say “hi” and catch up makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for sharing your story and the photos. With that wonderful smile on your face, the promise of enjoying the event seems to have come true!

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  3. I am so sorry the airlines had alternate plans for your weekend Lisa – why do they do that I wonder? [Maybe it was to protect the introvert from too much people exposure for too long …..] But the fact that you got there AND enjoyed it says such a lot for the people you met up with …… As an introvert too I understand the situation so very well! Isn’t it the oddest thing, this knowing other people without having met up for forty odd years – or, as in our case recently, ever! 🙂

    It’s quite wonderful that this little group has met up consistently for so long – do people fly in from all over the country now or have most of them stayed close to home? Maybe you will go to other get-togethers now 🙂

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    • arlingwoman says:

      There are quite a few–I’d say maybe a third who live out of state or come from some hours away in-state to be at the reunions. We didn’t get all folks at this one. jean was talking about having another one in two years when we all turn…eeek…60. 😉

      Like

  4. Sylvie G says:

    Being somebody who did not have the opportunity to keep in touch with school friends, (most of) old friends), because I was moving around so much, I find your story very touching. It must be really fantastic to be in touch with people you have known for such a long time. Signed “a little envious” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sylvie G says:

    P.S. I love the captions under the photos 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jennypellett says:

    Wow, what an amazing sense of community! Must have felt a bit strange going back after all that time but I bet once you were there it felt like yesterday. I often wonder what happened to some of the people I was at school with. I keep in touch with three dear friends from that time but everyone else has disappeared into their own lives…

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  7. KerryCan says:

    I’m just like you, Lisa–the introvert who has avoided all attempts to get me back to a reunion. I know, in my heart, that if I went, I’d probably have a blast but I just haven’t taken the plunge. I now live in the area where I grew up so maybe, just maybe, I’ll relent someday. It certainly looks like you had a terrific time!

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  8. Indeed, one has to be ready. I’m still not ready, and my 50th high school reunion was a couple of years ago. Seems like the conundrums for introverts are the same everywhere….but it looks like you are none the worse for it, and in fact had some fun. Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is a great write-up of the event! And the introvert seems to be always smiling in the photos! I attended a 50th school reunion last year and most didn’t have a clue who I was – either back then or today!

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  10. I fully understand your reticent ambivalence Lisa; even more well done

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  11. Mary Tang says:

    This is a good story; well told. I enjoyed reading it. It’s wonderful to be in touch with old friends, even if many are far away.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Allison says:

    Lisa, thanks for sharing!! i felt like I was there 🙂 I wish i could say my class reunions could be like yours…..but with a class of 450 kids and very few close friends whom I have stayed in touch with….it just isn’t the same. My 50th will happen in 2020….maybe i will go 🙂 xoxo

    Like

    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes, we’re a small class in a small town, so even people I didn’t know well, I knew something about. Go if you want. It might be fun, and you are less introverted now. I WAS exhausted after, though!

      Like

  13. Marylyn Potts Grant says:

    You captured it beautifully Lisa ! See you at the next one hopefully.

    Like

  14. Tim R. says:

    Lisa! Wow. What a cool capture of the day. We’ve all grown, but closer now than ever. Few realize what growing up in Auburn was like.

    Like

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    We’re the same age! Just got a notice for my 40th, and threw it away. 😀 I went to the 20th and 25th, wherein I decided I wouldn’t be doing it again. It is amazing how some folks don’t ever change and that isn’t always a good thing! 😉

    Like

    • arlingwoman says:

      EEEeee! I think you have to hold off. People are mellower now. My only regret in not going earlier is that a few people have died, and one of them apparently hoped to see me at a reunion. But these are things you need to want to go to. Glad we’re compatriots in age!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. gregg says:

    Well Lisa, now you have a more personal sense of why we still get together. From Kindergarten through our departure from Auburn, most of us had a very shared experience…we watched Laugh In and The Beverly Hillbillies and I Dream of Jeanie and grew into our own unique characters – and 40 years later we can celebrate the shared memories and good parts of our youth. It was so great to see you and wonderful to have you with us. The best parts of our class are the hearts that got together for those fond memories…even those no longer with us, are treasured memories. Hope to see you again!

    Like

    • arlingwoman says:

      You’re right, Gregg! Thanks for coming by the blog. It was good to see you as well. I would have loved to hear the band and get to say more than hi and ‘bye. I have to go back now just to talk with the people I missed at this one!

      Like

  17. Boomdeeadda says:

    Happy 40th reunion !! OMGosh right? 4 – zero, wowie-kozowie! I’m not far behind you actually, I graduated in 1979. Our class only had a 10 year reunion which I attended. I remember that most of the girls still looked the same but a number of the guys had really changed. I take it your friend Mike is bucking that trend? He looks too nice to have made any sinister deals to retain his youth, but you never know. It’s always the ones you least expect, LOL.
    I bet you could win The Best Figure award Lisa! You should share your secrets. What do you not eat? Bread, cookies, pasta? I know you east lots of veggies and drink wine, but so do I. Well bravo girlie, you rock! Was your grad date there? wok

    BTW, silly me. I read the sign behind Kandy as being ‘ASS of 1975’ and thought, “way to go Kandy” LOL. snicker

    Like

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