thirty years out

It’s quiet on the farm this morning — at least where I sit, patio-side in a breezeless haze. There’s only hot and hotter ahead. My eyes are heavy for lack of sleep, my throat is sore for talking over the band. Thirty years out, I’m still unaccustomed to the party scene.

I chatted with quite a few last night who said, “Where’d you go? We were Facebook friends and then, poof.” Well, I quit Facebook in February. Here’s why; I haven’t looked back. But it is more challenging to stay connected within some circles — high school classmates foremost — so I’m thankful for reunion weekend.

Some say, “I don’t need that reunion B.S., everyone trying to impress.” But I say we’re small town, unassuming North County. That stuff just doesn’t fly here. Sure, the No Co is no Mecca for making it big by the world’s standards. The well kept secret is that to grow up here, to raise your family here, to develop friendships here, is sweetness you can’t buy.

Others say, “I keep in touch with those I care about. I don’t need reunions.” But I say that’s shortsighted. In some way, each classmate has contributed to who I am today. It might have been a close friendship in fourth grade or at a particularly awkward stage. Someone who got algebra or French and helped me get it, too. Or a series of small kindnesses. Maybe it was keen intellect, raising the bar and challenging my own thinking. Or setting an example of inspiring courage in the face of hardship. Even if it was an insult or affront, sometimes the hurtful sparks determination to rise above. My mind races across youthful faces, through time, past places; whatever I remember somehow mattered.

I am saddened that so many say, “I hated high school. I’ll never go back.” I can only say, I’m so sorry. And you’re not alone. Some of my classmates have never come back; maybe they feel that way, too. There are a few I’ve really missed. I wonder about them, where they are, hope they are well. I wish I knew how to get in touch. I regret that they weren’t here. But I once learned a simple secret: focus on who shows up, regardless the circumstances. They always matter most in the moment, especially thirty years out.

Thank you, ’82.

~René Morley

4 thoughts on “thirty years out”

  1. I just reread this entry and it touched me again as it had when I first read it in July. You captured the emotion and the levels of meaning of your gathering. So happy we all had that time together. I wish I was with you and your family this weekend, but my thoughts will be with you all.

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