Monday, October 29, 2007

25th Reunion report

So, the reunion. I enjoyed it a little more than I anticipated, which is not saying a huge amount (see previous post), but something. The weather could not have been better; clear skies, warm but with a slight chill after sundown.

The "tailgate" turned out to be hanging out together in/around a pavilion on the school grounds; didn't notice anyone actually eating (except one, as I left the game). Which was OK. Just a handful came for this part. The new principal gave us a tour of the campus; we were prepared for a shock, but it all looked surprisingly the same, with the exception of the library (which has been "Starbuck'ed" to include a coffee bar and tables for casual reading--very clever) and a refurbished gym (not that I would have noticed; since gym class wasn't required I only went there for pep rallies during school hours).

A knot of us classmates ended up in the same section at the football game. One former marching band member noted the much-reduced size (and corresponding quality) of the current band, compared to the glory of the band in her day (victory in statewide competitions made it less uncool to be in band, apparently). The team wasn't exactly dominating the field; apparently BCHS hasn't caught onto the UT strategy of booking easy opponents for Homecoming whenever possible, but then alumni contributions are probably less crucial. But none of the comparisons dampened the enjoyment of each other's company. And two of our classmates had family members in the Homecoming court, so we had that to brag to each other about.

On Saturday I got to the Cleveland Country Club a little early, and the others trickled in slowly. There was a lot of glancing and downright staring across carpets to determine if we were supposed to know that person, etc. The nametags for alumni only were helpful in sorting out spouses, but many times we weren't sure until we came close enough to read the names. An international summit of U.N. leaders could hardly have exhibited a more cautious-yet-cordial manner. Except for the former cheerleaders, who all still looked pretty much the same, and were not given to quiet greetings anyway.

I was reminded several times of the different "life stages" that were represented. Some had young children, some had kids starting college; most married, some still single, some single again; some working average jobs, one guy a hospital CEO...and one not present, a math whiz, rumored to be doing secret government work. Some of us had about as much to say now and we did in high school (or as little). And that's....OK (to quote Stuart Smalley from SNL). At worst it was interesting to see how time had treated us; at best, it was great to find we could pick up on old friendships and find them as fresh and soul-nourishing as ever.

Attendance from the 20th (about 200?) to the 25th (about 75) dropped so much, I can't help wondering what the next one will be like, whenever it happens. To quote Phil Keaggy's song "Cherish The Moment": "We may not pass this way again, so take nothing for granted."

After the group picture was taken, I headed out to do the solo acoustic gig I had wrangled for late Saturday night in downtown Chattanooga. I have mixed opinions even now about whether that was worth doing, given the lack of audience (for most of it) and the hassle. As if my ego hadn't already been tested enough that weekend! But it was a good reminder of why I need an audience to do much of my best stuff. Funny songs and stage banter are just sad otherwise. But a few people cheered on the latter part of the set, and I don't know if I finished well, but I did finish loud.

I continued in the spirit of the reunion weekend on Sunday and met up with my friend John and his wife. We had not had a huge amount in common as middle- and high-schoolers; our friendship was born as much out of location as anything, since we were both stuck out in the boonies and were the closest neighbors our age. Long bus rides have been the catalyst for many relationships, and ours was no exception; in this case it was a school bus. But we did manage to forge a strong bond, which was evident in our chat over tacos.

Then I was off to the evening service at a local church. My friend Janelle and family members (friends of my family from way back) were singing several songs, and she had invited me. One of her sisters had been in Geometry class with me in h.s., so yet another connection to make. She had told me the service started at 6:30, but as I slipped in at 6:35 or so, I realized the service must have been well under way, as Janelle and co. were already singing, and especially as they sat down after that one song. So one of the few times I would have been on time (relatively speaking) I was the victim of her error! I gave her a hard time about it. But it was a minor hitch, and the service capped off a memorable weekend.

See the pics below or click here.

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