A group of us were standing in a lobby area of our old high school. The guide told us that we are standing where the old tunnel used to be. I remember the tunnel. It was a crossing place between the gym and the high school. It was something that was unique in our school as it made our journey to the gym direct and convenient. Of course I’m thinking back forty years ago and it wasn’t just the tunnel that changed. The school was so renovated that it was hard to believe that it was the same school we attended. The tour of the high school was actually the third leg of our reunion time. It was tied to a 5K run/walk which focused on the old neighborhoods around the school. Later there would be the main event that evening and a goodbye breakfast the next morning. Noted in that run/walk were the actual houses where some of our classmates lived at the time we were in school together.
I had planned to do the run/walk that morning but my body was telling me no. After participating in an 18 hole reunion golf scramble the day before and attending the casual get together that night I was feeling pretty sore. However, I did meet up with everyone for the tour and was glad I did. Of all of the events, the tour was the most reflective and mind boggling. While the new rooms for learning were amazing a part of me wondered “where have they taken my old school?” They say that some things remain the same but we were having a hard time finding any. Today’s students have personal computers and i-phones that they use to text friends. They have ways of communicating that we never did. The only two places in the school that looked somewhat familiar was the auditorium and the library. While the auditorium seemed exactly the same, the library did have a special computer room that would have been next century stuff for our class. Come to think of it that is exactly what it is. The old typing room down the hall, (a room of multiple typewriters), where I miraculously learned to type from Mrs. Frakes, is long since gone and only lives in the museums of our minds.
I’ve taken a full turn on these class reunion gatherings. I attended my first at the 25 year celebration. I guess the first few I figured would be a can you top this thing. I envisioned comments like “I’m the president of a bank!” “What are you doing?” Happily I found that this was not the case. Maybe in the earlier ones it was but by the 25th everyone seemed to enjoy seeing each other. I met new friends that were not my friends in high school. Most people definitely mature and realize that they are not the center of the world. The last couple of reunions I have been on the reunion planning committee. I remember back in the day we would get a letter in the mail telling us about the reunion plans. These days that is replaced by contacting people on Facebook and having them spread the word also. We have become a part of the new technology world too.
The committee talked about different venues for the main event and eventually settled for a place downtown named Shakespears. We found out later that Shakespears wouldn’t let us bring a DJ in as we have had in previous reunions, but it didn’t seem to matter. It seemed that all everyone really wanted was a big room where they could catch up with their old friends. What was really gratifying was the heartfelt thanks from so many of our classmates as to the great job the committee did. It left me with a lesson learned that whatever we are doing it is great to feel appreciated. On the other hand if I participate in something I want to be one of those people who show their gratitude to the organizers.
Two things happened when I first arrived at Shakespears. After parking the car which wasn’t an easy adventure because of the local rib fest celebration, a classmate spotted me in the parking lot and wondered where we go in. There were a couple of doors and I wasn’t sure either. She had a bunch of flowers to carry in and the timing was just right where myself and another classmate were able to carry them for her. The other thing I noticed as I found the area where we were meeting, was a board with classmates pictures. I wondered if my picture was up there, (one of the few representing many), as I walked up for a closer look. It turned out that this board had the 26 members of our class who were not with us anymore. My emotions went from hoping to see my picture to glad it wasn’t there and that I’m still here to celebrate. I was struck by a comment from another classmate as we talked about how we would be in our 60’s for the next reunion. “Hopefully we will still be here”, was her comment, “you never know.” Her comment startled me for a second but I knew she was right. Almost assuredly there will be less living members of our class for the next reunion
Just like the old school has changed in appearance me and my fellow classmates have changed too. We are more wrinkled and grayer haired (if we have hair at all). Most of us are heavier than we used to be. Still I recognized almost all of the people I knew. Oh they may have looked a bit different but their basic recognizable qualities and mannerisms were the same. Forty years of life puts some wear and tear on our bodies for sure.
Everyone seems to have their own sense of importance as far as reunions go. There are people who wouldn’t walk across the street to attend one and others who make the trip from as far away as California. The ones who invariably come are treated to memories, old friendships, new friendships, and a chance to re-live how things used to be. Instead of the competition we felt in high school, there is now a closeness as we reflect on the same experiences that we shared.
Forty years, it went by so quickly. A former classmate mentioned to me last year about how you turn around and you are 50. Seeing all of my old classmates was like going to a wedding or a funeral. Invariably I started feeling older and more vulnerable. Events that take me back in time have a way of making me reflect. Like the old high school I have been through many changes. I have experienced love, hurt, elation, depression, victory, defeat, loss, and gain. My fellow classmates have lived through their own highs and lows and most have weathered the storm. Symbolically we have passed through the tunnel from youth to older age and there is no going back. Through it all we shake our heads as we wonder how we ever survived without all of the technology gadgets modern kids can’t do without.
We probably need a tunnel to connect how we grew up with how kids grow up today. Unfortunately everything has changed and a tunnel doesn’t exist anymore. One thing that I am forever thankful for was at age 16 before my junior year I gave my heart to Jesus. It was the best decision I have ever made! Like the tunnel that connected the main building to the gym, I found the path that connected me with God. I have fallen multiple times since but he is faithful and has picked me up frequently along the way.
I’m looking forward to a bigger reunion one day where I will be reunited with many loved ones, but in particular my parents and my daughter. I’m sure there are loved ones you miss too and long to see again someday. Until then we are to keep the faith and do what he has called us to do. Around us I see the world changing like my old high school. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I take great comfort in that fact!