Let me be up front about something — I’m not real big on the whole reunion thing. I’ve long believed that those that I really cared about I would keep in touch with. The others — the folks that I would only see at a reunion? Well, as much as our shared experiences may have helped form me, that was then, and this is now. There’s really not much connection between the two.
This is, of course, ridiculous. Over the years I’ve managed to lose touch with all kinds of people, and it’s certainly not because I don’t care about them. It’s just such bloody hard work, it seems. First, you have to be pretty mindful to maintain regular contact with folks who aren’t in your immediate sphere, and then, if you don’t maintain regular contact, there’s all that catching up to do.
So I’m not very sure what made me decide to drive ten hours northwest to Wabash College to attend my thirty year college reunion. Maybe it had something to do with a critical mass of my closest friends who were coalescing around the event. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that my birthday was over the same weekend. Or maybe it was just a sense I had that, at 52 years old, it might not be such a bad time to catch up.
I did catch up, and I’m happy to report that my friends were as funny, intelligent, interesting, and downright decent as I remember them. They’ve all accomplished much, yet still carry within them a kind of curiosity about how the world works, the kind of curiosity that was formed — and continues to be informed — by our liberal arts education. Our conversations were nostalgic, current, funny, serious, irreverent, thoughtful, flippant, and — often — earnest. It was this latter quality that struck me the most, as it is a quality which, I must shamefully confess, doesn’t seem to crop up in many of my casual conversations any more.
Over just 36 hours or so, I discovered much about these men — their triumphs, their disappointments, their wives, their children, their work, their beliefs. Such is to be expected, I guess, at an event whose primary purpose is to facilitate such catching up. But here’s what surprised me. Over the course of this brief time, I caught up with someone else, someone I haven’t been in touch with for a long, long while — me.
More on that later.