The weekend before last I had the opportunity to attend my 30th high school reunion. Wow! 30 years! Some memories seem like yesterday and yet I needed to rely on my classmates to fill in some blanks. This was only the third reunion I’ve attended, previously attending the 10 and 20 year ones. I enjoyed this one, even though it was only several hours long.
I really had to rely on name tags to make sure I knew who was coming through the door especially for the guys. There are a few who look amazingly close to how they looked in high school. And for the guys this usually means they still have their hair and didn’t put too many pounds on. For the rest of the guys we either fell into one of two camps: not much hair or a lot of gray. On the other hand, I thought the ladies were generally easier to identify. It’s funny because unless you still have friends from high school that you see often, your memory play tricks on you because your memory is based on how everyone looked 30 years ago. The ladies still made all of the guys look good in the Facebook photos.
Here’s why I enjoyed this reunion so much. Since the 20 year reunion, Facebook has helped many classmates reconnect on the web. I’ve learned how to create my own Google + like circles using Facebook lists, so it’s easy to filter a news feed of friends by category. Say what you want about Facebook, but the interesting thing about the news feed from my high school friends list is that I can sort of “see” what everybody my age is doing. One unique characteristic of your high school class is that everyone is within a year or so of each other. So you sort of experience the vagaries of life roughly at the same clip. The social networks have made it a little easier to see how your classmates are faring with kids, aging parents, careers and marriage.
Interestingly, depending on when people got married, the range of kids goes from about 10 or 11 to 25-27. Many have kids in the middle somewhere or they’re struggling to watch their children leave the house and go off to college. That reality seemed especially hard on several of the ladies that I talked to. Raising kids has been the main preoccupation for the majority of folks (myself not included, which is likely why I still have hair.)
Careers was another interesting subject. At the age of 47-48, the majority of us are all hitting our groove in terms of our jobs. We’re in that sweet spot where we’ve had a couple of decades of experience in our professions or businesses. There’s a feeling of being in charge of where we want to work and what we want to do. Most of us are earning pretty good money and we all looked pretty good too!
I was impressed with my classmates and genuinely happy for their accomplishments. I sensed a very real contentment with life overall. Contentment with spouses, kids, choices and jobs. Everyone looked in pretty decent health and there was lots of laughter. My prayer for them is that the next 10 years God continues to shine blessings on them as he has over the last 30 years. The next milestone reunion will be the year 2021 and we will be 57-58 years old and staring at our own retirement.
I was telling my dad about the reunion and he confirmed that he had a similar experience at his 30 year reunion. And then he said something interesting to me. He said in the next 10 years most of everyone’s kids will be grown up and gone out of the house, and this fact will likely prove to be a great test for those who are married. He reminded me that the rest of American society has demonstrated that after the kids leave the house a lot of marriages have trouble and break down. Once the kids are no longer the central focus of the marriage, it seems folks take a look at who’s sleeping next to them and ask, “who are you?”
I hope my class finds a way to beat the odds set by the generations before us. We are the very tail end of the baby boomer generation that was from 1946 to 1964 (inclusive of the last year.) My class was born primarily in 1963. During our lifetimes, the country has undergone major social changes. I’m old enough to remember asking my father to explain the Vietnam War to me even though I was only 6 or 7 and it didn’t end until I was almost 12 in 1975. My class graduated from high school in 1981 as Ronald Reagan had won the presidency in a landslide the year before. In those years which extended into our college years, we witnessed the birth of the proponents of social change to the more conservative, and now back again. We have witnessed (as children) and to some extent we have defined (as adults) the social divide that exists in the country today. There are still fantastic challenges to conquer and adventures to experience in the next decade to be sure!
To the Lincoln High School Class of ’81: Thanks for nice evening of memories. I look forward to keeping in touch with many of you on Facebook. Keep going guys, there’s more greatness in store for us to come!