Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Can Go Back

 So, I guess you can go back. In this case, back is to my XXth high school reunion, back in suburban Rockland County, about 20 miles north of New York City. (You can tell from the photos we’re not 20-somethings!!)

Like many, the high school years were not the best. I was a nerd, not the most attractive looking, not good in sports, and overall lacking in self-confidence, particularly in social settings. Also, I’ve always been an urban creature, so these 6 years stranded in suburbia were not my favorites. I lacked mobility. Friends were so far away, that I didn’t see them outside of school.

Even in school, I was a bit of an outcast as a nerd, sometimes teased, and not really feeling I belonged.

So, why go back? Well, for the last few years, I had been thinking of the unincorporated hamlet I called home for only 6 years. I’m its facebook page and really have been enjoying the sharing of trivia and the history of the area with a number of the active participants. I was feeling the need to reconnect with that part of my roots, which included my high school class.

So, I got up the nerve and went. And, as it turned out, I do belong. Just didn’t always know it.

It was wonderful time! We had 4 hours in the function room, including a dinner and a DJ playing the hits of ’72. There was a little bit of dancing, but largely everyone just wanted to catch up and talk about those days. When 11 pm came and everyone was still chatting, we adjoined to the nearby hotel bar and put tables together and partied until 2 am.

Our time was unique and special and helped define some aspects of all of us. We were just a little past the “hippie age” in the ‘60s, but thankfully before the disco age later in the ‘70s. We still had bands, and not drum machines! Our songs included American Pie (overplayed!), Born to Be Wild, Layla, Brown Sugar, Imagine, Roundabout, Time in a Bottle, Down by the River, Agualung, Suzanne, You’re so Vain, Touch Me and School’s Out. Come to think of it, some of it downright depressing and not always great to dance to. And there was the story of being stuck on the dance floor during the 17-minute drum solo on Garden of Eden. Or wishing you had someone to dance with when they played Stairway to Heaven, which was a slow dance for the first 3 minutes, and then what do you do with the heavy part?

It was a time when we sought to go beyond the confines of our parents’ white, middle class life, and challenge the status quo in society and ourselves. Yes, it was a time when pot was everywhere in high schools and colleges, and some went on to harder stuff. We were not our parents’ generation by any stretch. We wanted to rebel and be ourselves.

I started high school as a conservative nerd, but left as a liberal more aligned with the “freaks” as that group of outcasts was known. (On the left is Kevin, a rebel and "freak" who had longer hair in the day and takes credit for “corrupting Susan and I! What happened our senior trip stayed on senior trip.) Overall, we all were transformed in one way or another. And then we went our separate ways.

Years past, and now we find ourselves seeking comfort in many of the trappings of our middle class lifestyles, from having decent employment to owning a home to being proud of our families in whatever form we find them. In many ways, we’ve become like our parents (but don’t ever say that to us!!) Our parents are aging; many of us have become their caregivers. Some of our parents have passed on. Our politics range across the spectrum.

We have changed, but, on this one evening we all belonged to our class. And in those few hours, we really felt 18 again and on senior trip.  Yes, you can go back.