What draws us to reunions

Opinion: Columns

October 10th, 2017 2:47 PM

By John Hubbuch

On Saturday evening, Sept. 23, the New Albany, Indiana High School Class of 1967 held its 50th Reunion at the Calumet Club on Spring Street. Both Marsha and I are members of the class. In fact, we went to the senior prom together. Both of our families still live in the town of 35,000 located on the Ohio River. As a result, we have been to most of the previous reunions. I was particularly excited about this one — 50 years is a long time.

There were almost 700 in our graduating class. In 1967, there was a single high school for the whole town and county. According to the program, 113 graduates attended. Eighty-six were not there because they had died. In due course, the actuarial imperative will no doubt flip this ratio.

These reunions are self-selective affairs. If you are obese or on oxygen, you don't attend. If you hated high school, you probably don't want to reminisce about the good old days because there weren't very many. A lot of grads came stag because their non-grad spouses would have preferred water-boarding. Everyone looked as you would expect — 67 or 68 years old and kind of beat up and worn down. A few of us may have been cosmetically altered. They looked 65 or 66.

It was somewhat surprising to me that everyone seemed pretty happy. I suspect each of us brought different thoughts to bear on this humid evening. For some, the heavy lifting of job and children was over, and there was perhaps the hopeful comfort of a future of greater certainty and predictability in our lives.

Some of us were perhaps warmed by a sunshine of reminiscence that cut through clouds of angst, anxiety, and fear. For three years, we comprised a cohort of common experience — classes, good and bad teachers, first dates and break-ups, homecoming dances, basketball games, music, part-time jobs and cars. We morphed from adolescent to adult. Together. Like soldiers or teammates or even family. Maybe the bad times decay from our memories faster than the good times. I'm not sure, but everyone I talked to had fond memories of this shared past.

In my case, I experienced all of these competing emotions — and one more. I am drawn to these reunions because they remind me of who I was before I became who I am. It was a time of great, if not infinite, possibility. I could have been or done anything. Life had not yet intruded and made me realize how laughably foolish my ambition was back then. I savor the sweet melancholy of these formative years with a group of fellow travelers. It makes me smile.

I'm already looking forward to the next reunion. 

Carry on.