My Reality of Attending a School Reunion
I recently attended my 40th class school reunion out in Southern California. There was a whirlwind of activities, two parties on a Friday night, the real reunion on Saturday night and then a brunch picnic the following Sunday morning. I didn’t attend the brunch, choosing instead to have breakfast with a small group of woman I have known since I was a very young girl. It was a good choice. It allowed us an intimate time to reflect on our lives and the past two days, and I didn’t want to leave.
In the work I do, reunions are a common scenario as people choose life cycle events as a way to honor and celebrate. Whether it be a family reunion, significant anniversary or birthday, memorializing it with a tribute video is one way to celebrate and create something as a memento. So I get to experience a lot of people’s reunions through a professional lens.
For me, I had an unusual school experience. I grew up in the same town in Los Angeles and went to one specific school with the same group of people through 7th grade. In 8th grade, my father got a wild hair up his behind and moved our entire family up to Fairbanks Alaska where he ran an amusement park themed around the Alaska Gold Rush. We lived up there for a little over a year and I didn’t get to be part of my 8th grade school graduation. Then we came back to LA where I went to the local High School with my old group of friends and stayed there for 2 years. Then we moved back east and I attended a different school (that’s a story I’ll save for another time) and graduated with that group.
The important thing to remember here is context of time. Back in those days, there was no internet or social media. When you left somewhere or someone, it was for real. A goodbye was a real goodbye. Not like now where you say goodbye to someone and then see them three hours later on Facebook posting photos of their time with you.
If you left somewhere, you would not see these people for years unless you physically wrote them a letter or called them on the telephone which was a long-distance call and could be quite costly. I obviously lost track of a great many people.
Going back to my hometown, seeing a lot of these people after many, many years was a joyous experience. It was in many ways a coming full-circle for me. To be able to followup with people I had unwillingly lost touch with helped confirm a lot of the things I knew about myself and my life. At one of the Friday evening parties, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Durocher, was there. We were her first class out of college and she must not have been more than a dozen years older than us at the time. I remember her so well and I remember my own joy and anticipation as the class bought her a puppy, and all the things that went with it, as a parting gift at the end of the school year. She came with photos of the dog, which she kept for 14 years, as well as other photos of the class and all the teachers at the time.
Connecting with so many old friends again, what really struck me was how easily I slid back into talking and being with all the people I was good friends with back then. It felt like the years had never passed. The personalities and energies that had us originally become friends was still there and it was so easy to reconnect without having to catch people up with all the minutia of the years in between. Some of us will be using this as a launching point to continue our friendships into the future, while for others, we may not see each other until the next major reunion.
I find that at social events, I’m either there 100% present, or I am behind the camera trying to document the event. I can never seem to manage doing both successfully. So I ended up the next day with maybe 4 or 5 photos on my iPhone. Photos trickled onto Facebook over the next week or so and a wonderful group photo was taken although I haven’t seen that yet. I wish I had taken more photos because, if you’ve been paying attention in class, the physical memoirs are all we have after our own memories are gone. But I am also aware that this was something much bigger. That I took part in something that wasn’t at all concrete for most people, and what lives in my memory will be something more important that I can share down the road, with my friends and family.
Still… having said that, I’m now thinking of ways to gather up all the photos that were taken that night and create some type of montage! You can take the girl out of the profession, but you can’t take the profession out of the girl.
Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.