By the time the reunion itself began, I was so full to overflowing with all of the gifts of the previous days I would have been happy to go home without attending the formal events. I'm so glad I gave myself the next two days. Here's what I would have missed:
Not being recognized, over and over and over. Many said it was my hair. I was a brunette at the last reunion - at least if you didn't look at the roots too closely. We all told each other how great we looked, but when a woman I hardly knew asked me if I'd had a face lift, I knew the good stuff was shining through.
The conversation with Sandy, who has self-published four books, and Kay, whose muse has had just about enough of being denied a voice. Three writers, at different stages of development, speaking a common language and sharing our hopes and dreams. Kay told me later that I had inspired her.
Laughing so hard my jaws hurt during bingo with an eclectic mix of classmates, many of whom I avoided in high school. Realizing that my fear of being considered more of a loser than I thought I already was kept me from knowing a lot of really interesting people.
Cory, our houseboat hostess, observing the difference in attitudes between the previous reunions and this one. "At the other reunions people were about being noticed and impressing everyone with their accomplishments. It was about what they could get from everyone. This time everyone seems to really care about each other and seems to want to hear what everyone else has to offer." At almost 60, we have become as a group kind, caring, and compassionate. Who would ever have guessed?
Huckleberry cheesecake. The Saturday night dinner was exceptional for banquet food, and having a huckleberry dessert was a perfect ending. Huckleberries only grow in the wild. Their flavor is the mountains of North Idaho, and has the power to transport me to perfect summer days of healing heat, pure air and the grace of unearned abundance.
The feeling of overwhelming tenderness that washed over me whenever I had a moment to stand back and absorb my classmates' energetic and happy conversations. My surprise at the intensity of my love for people I hardly know. My joy at finding that capacity.
Enjoying the invisible security of my friendship with Marcia. Although we arrived at all the events together, we hardly spoke. We didn't need to. We are effortless and eternal.
Being told by Jacquie, with whom I used to exchange wild letters written on weird material in the summertime, that she caught a glimpse of my mom (the woman I spent a huge portion of my adult life trying not to be) in my face while we were talking. She meant it as a compliment. I received it as one.
Getting to say over and over and over again, "I'm taking a leave from my teaching career to start a new career as a writer. I'm looking for an agent for my memoir, God Has No Daughters, the story of my time in a small Bible-based cult." I never did get tired of repeating my story, or answering the questions that almost always came.
Being asked to dance at the street dance, the last event of the reunion. At previous reunions I needed to be asked to feel like someone noticed and cared about me, to believe I was attractive and important. This time I wasn't thinking about any of that, and just had fun visiting with my partners during the dances. I could feel the teenager inside doing her own private happy dance, and I was happy for her.
Being told, by Larry whom I dated briefly in high school along with about half the other girls in our class, during our dance, "It's so nice to see you happy." It's unbelievably lovely to be a happy ending.
photo from Flickr