Class Reunions Are Measuring Points
After my senior year in high school,
I left and vowed I’d never return.
For twenty years I kept my word,
For I had worldly lessons to learn.
But I began celebrating with my graduating class,
While I continued acting on life’s stage.
I found class reunions to be entertaining,
I wasn’t content to be left frozen on a yearbook page.
My ten year reunion seemed a little cold,
Conversations were earnest and matter of fact,
I laid out my dreams for all to see,
Pressure was on me to perform and act.
“Step in line. Let me take your picture.”
I wanted pictures reminding me of the past,
I believed the beautiful people should pose first,
Although my inner fear was I might be last.
“Smile!” the photographer barked,
My picture was taken and I found my seat,
Around an oval table sat unrecognized friends,
Who waited for a tri-tip dinner and good things to eat.
An invitation to the twentieth reunion arrived by mail,
“Your senior class is inviting you to attend,”
The invitation told me where and when,
Then signed, Your Anonymous Friends.
My curiosity was piqued by that note,
I put it on my calendar to make sure I was there.
Classmates arrived from parts unknown,
They all looked different; I had to stare.
Some men had beards or lost their hair,
My high school sweetheart was someone’s wife,
She had been married fifteen years,
Had a truckload of kids and was enjoying life.
I went from table to table searching for friends,
But many didn’t respond and didn’t go,
I tried not to show my disappointment,
When people asked, I’d say, “I don’t know.”
After twenty years the race was still on,
Life goals were in concrete set,
Families and jobs were often compared,
Friends asked, “Have your expectations been met?”
Classmates acted young and were chasing dreams,
They were waist deep in life as years flew past,
Each reunion became a measuring point,
And it seemed everyone was having a blast.
When the thirtieth rolled around I was racing by the rail,
Some classmates were ahead and avoiding the dust,
Their fortunes were already made,
They’d reached a level called “upper crust”.
The fortieth reunion was far more relaxed,
My retirement was rolling into sight,
Conversations were more about grandkids,
Houses and travel, and how money was tight.
Although I needed glasses and the light was dim,
I dared to study one rough-hewn face,
Memories of a young athlete competing
Were evoked from distant time and space.
His face was one I immediately recognized,
But when I shook his hand he seemed surprised,
“Bill,” I said, glad I could remember his name,
“Remember when we beat the Tigers in the big game?”
Then a woman’s face, etched with lines,
Hiding things she seemed afraid to share,
Perhaps she worried about a child’s health,
Or about a husband who didn’t care.
I wanted to distract her with a few kind words,
“Mary, I sat behind you n Spanish class,
I just wanted to tell you thanks,
Without your help I knew I could not pass.”
My role in life was to encourage and entertain,
I never won any academic awards,
But seeing my friends grin or smile,
Was to me a fantastic reward.
Once my mind had kept my body under control,
“Mind over matter,” had been often said,
Now my mind was losing its grip
“What’s next?” was running through my head.
I bought tickets to the fiftieth reunion
I decided to go before my energy drained,
Time was taking its daily toll
Sometimes it seemed little energy remained.
Before festivities started I looked around,
Wondering why men and women stared at me,
Squinting as they looked at my name tag,
They mumbled things like, “Long time, no see.”
It was time to focus on serious matters,
Because discussions centered around health,
Medicare, operations, medicines, and pills,
I noted that everyone cared less about wealth.
There wasn’t enough time to share my life,
For after dinner there was a live band,
Stirring up excitement with words I knew,
Playing sixties music to those who could stand.
Time and years had changed me,
From being indestructible with unstoppable plans,
I came to the realization I was fragile
And life had not been left in my hands.
My mirror tells me I have changed,
The years had not always treated me kind,
If I wander off or get left behind,
I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve lost my mind.
My features have coarsened and my hair turned gray,
Suddenly it seemed I became old and bent,
But the memories of reunions I’ve collected,
Are there to remind me I was glad I went.
I wouldn’t do things differently if we meet again,
Except print name tags larger so I can see,
An extra one backwards, larger, and upside down,
For I might need to be reminded that I am me.