August 9, 2012 in Washington Voices

50th reunion will go on without me

By The Spokesman-Review
 

My 50th high school reunion is this summer. Well, sort of.

I actually graduated in 1963, but the committee that puts these things together decided – probably for reasons of critical mass – to celebrate the 50th with the class of 1962 in a big bash at a fancy resort in Miami. Whether it’s 49 or 50, I’m still not going to be there – and not just because it’s 3,057 road miles from my front door to Miami Edison Senior High School (I Mapquested it).

Most of my family and friends have migrated out of Miami and are scattered throughout the state, so I spend very little time in Miami when I go to visit. Even if I were back in Florida at the time of this summer’s event, it’s still unlikely that I’d go. I wish the attendees well and hope they all have a great time. But the whole thing seems a little, I don’t know, creepy to me.

I had three close friends in high school, and I’m still in contact with two of them. The third? Well, I’ve Googled her and tried all sorts of ways to find her, but she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. I’m pretty easy to find, so I guess if she wants to reach out, here I am.

As for the rest of the people I went to school with, I just don’t see a reason to traipse across the country to try to figure out who they even are, assuming we are recognizable to one another after half a century. I think if we had wanted to be in contact all these years, we would have been.

Yes, I am a curmudgeon.

I wouldn’t have known about the festivities at all had not one of those two good friends (and I’m rethinking her status) reported my address and email to the organizing committee. OK, it was intriguing at first to receive some of the information, but I’m more than a little alarmed at how urgent the emails have become. Quick, get your reservations in at the resort before you lose the class discount! Deadline for reservations extended three more days, hurry! Kind of like a TV infomercial. I’m expecting the next missive to begin with “… but wait; if you call in the next 20 minutes, you’ll get blah blah blah …” And there seems to be such a frenetic intensity to all the events being planned. A pep rally in the old gym? Really?

OK, I’m being snotty, and that’s pretty unbecoming. I have friends here in Spokane who report to me how much they enjoyed their 50th high school reunions, how the events have included visits to the feeder elementary schools and what fun it’s been to run across long-forgotten classmates and recall long-forgotten memories. But they are still living in or near the communities they grew up in, so it’s all very familiar. I’ve lived a whole lifetime away from “home,” and when I go back, I have the familiarity of a hometown girl when it comes to getting around, but also the feeling of being just another out-of-step visitor when it comes to the current events, politics and pulse of the city and state.

I think I’d like to leave my memories of high school – mostly warm and positive and probably a bit out of focus – just the way they are. Sure, there would be a lot of fun stuff to learn and interesting people to chat with, irrespective of our high school connection, but I really don’t want to find out who died in Vietnam (a pretty significant number, I suspect) or whose lives have been sorrowful.

Thomas Wolfe had it right: You can’t go home again. You can stop by and maybe catch an echo or two, but that’s all. The high school and city that were home to me existed in the 1960s – a time of evolving desegregation laws, an exciting young president named John F. Kennedy, the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis and easy and safe movement around the whole city. Edison is in a sketchy part of town now and, sadly, visiting the neighborhood where I used to roam freely is not advised.

I don’t want to try to reach back to recapture or relive those long-gone experiences in a city that exists in a different time and place now. It’s not Brigadoon. And I’m not 16 anymore.

Correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@ comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists.


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