Until last weekend, I had forgotten how poignant reunions can be. Whether it’s family, school, or something else, reunions allow you to reconnect with the past. Not only are they great places to re-color some of those faded memories, they refresh the soul.
Reunions, Time, and Relationships
It’s hard to grasp the effect that time has—and doesn’t have—on relationships. Harder still to express. I wish I had the words to articulate the restorativeness (I know, that’s not really a word) of last weekend. My graduate program, USC- International MBA, celebrated a 30-year reunion. This is the first one that I attended, though there was a 25-year event.
Some people looked more or less the same. Good genes or “work,” they were instantly recognizable. Others, looked markedly different at first glance—gray hair, less hair, or glasses.
But once conversations began, the years peeled away.
Friendships picked up exactly where they had left off in 1986, even though we had to catch up on 30 years or so of life.
Some people have had tragic experiences. Lost a husband. Have children with severe emotional issues. Divorced. Many had lived in other countries, held impressive positions, or earned additional degrees.
In other words, a lot had changed.
Then again, very little changed—even for those who had “redefined” themselves by switching careers or vocation. Which was reassuring. We’d matured and aged, but not changed.
There was a lot of laughter, eating, and drinking. A lot of memories were reviewed. New ones were made. The days flew by.
As Mariah Hetherington said about a different reunion, “For me, the reunion’s biggest draw is the potential to reconnect face-to-face with people I truly regret losing touch with.”
Catching Up Before Hand
We cheated a little when it came to catching up. All 57 of us were encouraged to write “30 years in 300 words.” Eighteen of us did, in documents ranging from 25 to 700 words. That helped start conversations. I’d recommend that. It helps the folks that don’t want to explain the same things over and over.
Rebuilding the Memories
We shared the same experiences, but not the same memories. Sometimes it took several of us to rebuild the memory in terms that made sense. One would remember we were in Charleston, but not how we got there. Another would remember a bus trip. A third would remember the details of the tour we did of the container port. (I can’t remember the trip at all.)
And because we all speak foreign languages, the languages themselves held memories. I didn’t remember one classmate very clearly, until I heard him speaking German. Then the memories came flooding back.
Writing about Reunions
What reunions have you attended? How did they affect you? What did you learn about yourself? Did they make you feel reminiscent for the times gone by or relieved you’d strayed from the path you were expected to take.
Did you worry beforehand? Buy new clothes? Lose weight? Try to lose weight and fail (I’m raising my hand here)? Think about what stories you wanted to tell? Think about what you would keep silent about?
What memories did you most enjoy reminiscing about? Why? What had you forgotten? Who did you enjoy reconnecting with? Why do you think you’d lost touch? Do you think you’ll stay in touch now?
If you attended a school reunion, think back. Was it a high or low time in your life? Did you gain some perspective by going back?
If it was a family reunion, what did you learn about family and family relationships? How do they compare to friendships?
Have you written about a class or family reunion? How did you approach it? What advice would you give others?