"Still" was a word heard often on Saturday evening, as in "I'm still working at the same place," or "We still live in ..." or even "I'm still always glad to get together with you all."
Not so unusual for a 45th class reunion, perhaps, because by now there just isn't much changing locations or careers when one has been out of high school for more than four decades. Everyone is pretty well set in their lives, as they coast on through to the next stage: retirement. Hence the word still.
That was a new word for this reunion, one that was bandied about quite freely, I thought, as my classmates introduced themselves again and shared about their lives. It wasn't unusual for someone to say that they are retired and had been, perhaps, for some years already. Some of my classmates had retired while their spouse is still employed; others are already retired to the sunny South.
I'm not retired or in the sunny South. And that's just fine with me for now.
I have to say it was a congenial group as we met for our every-five-years gathering. We looked different and yet the same somehow, too. There's lots of gray hair and balding heads now, wider girths than in our teenage years, but it was interesting that somehow our personalities haven't really changed much.
By now it seems to me that there really isn't much stress involved in attending a class reunion, especially at this past-middle-age stage of life. Everyone is comfortable in their own skin. By now it's simple: we are just who we are. We don't have to live up to an image or worry about what others might think of us or even think a whole lot about how we look or if we're wearing the right outfit. Hopefully by this stage of life there are other more productive places to use our energy.
I don't know what it is about a class reunion, but they always leave me feeling renewed, rather euphoric, and with the sensation somehow all's right with the world. It's not enough that I graduated with these folks; many of them I grew up with. And, more than a half-century since we started school together, I always feel a bond with these classmates that's different from other connections in my life.
Most of all, as I shared with those at my reunion, I come away feeling very, very thankful that I was blessed to grow up where I did when I did, in the middle of the century in the middle of the country in the middle of Iowa. We were part of a lifestyle that basically doesn't exist any longer.
And, regardless of how far we've gone or how near we've stayed to Hamilton county, how high-powered or low key our career, whether we've been lucky in love or not, if we've been financially successful or have perhaps just scraped by, that simple beginning gave each of us a great start in life.