The lady who led the reunion planning committee was at the door as official greeter representing the class of 1974. With her was the older sister of the girl I had taken to the Junior Prom so many years ago, representing the class of 1973. Neither lady recognized me but they remembered my name. In truth, I didn’t recognize either of them and wouldn’t have known them if I’d passed them on the street.
We chatted for a few minutes then more people started showing up so I moved on, hanging around a mostly empty room. More people showed up and wandered around the room, meeting and chatting with each other. The organizers had helpfully made up name tags that included our high school yearbook photo which really helped in identifying classmates. I wasn’t the only one who looked very different compared to the old high school photo.
I found a few people who I remembered and who sort-of remembered me, but they didn’t seem overly excited about meeting me. Most of the people quickly formed into small groups and started holding lively conversations. It seemed that a lot of these people had never left the area and generally kept in contact with each other over the years. Some people I talked with had moved away for some period of time but then moved back. Then there were the few people like me who had left the area after graduation and never returned other than to visit. People had traveled from as far away as Alaska to attend this reunion.
Dinner on the buffet line was served and people helped themselves so I did the same. With a little food in me I went out to the main club area and got a beer, came back in and continued to hang around the room. I met a few more people whom I remembered, which got me a few more words of conversation before they moved on. Finally I wandered out to the bar and found a space to stand while nursing my beer.
I finished one beer and started another, and decided that I’d probably leave after I finished. About then a man came up to me and said “Ron Charest?” “Yes…” And the man introduced himself as one of my former cross country/track teammates whom I did remember by name. We struck up a nice conversation and the party started to get better.
We chatted for a while reminiscing and catching up on the past forty years. My friend had settled in Syracuse, New York, after earning a degree in music and was now making a living as a professional musician and teacher, which I thought was really cool. After a while another man joined us whom I recognized right away as one of the guys from my senior year social club. He had come up from Florida where he now lived and worked as an architect.
We had a nice chat catching up on forty years of living. Once in a while someone else would wander over to our group, get introduced, chat a bit, and then wander off. But the three of us talked for a long while. We reminisced about other former classmates and in some cases were able to exchange notes on where they were now and what they were doing. I talked a little about my running experiences in the navy, including bragging on typically being the fastest runner during the annual physical fitness tests.
My former teammate talked about how much he admired my running skills and that he considered me one of the team’s best athletes, which honestly surprised me. Long-distance running was the only sport I’ve ever excelled in, but back in my school days I didn’t think anyone actually noticed or even cared.