50 Year High School Reunion
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
"And you are? Ah, yes, I remember you." Or "Oh, sorry, we were in such a large class, about 700." These were the salutations ringing through the spaces of the Lake Merced Country Club, outside of San Francisco, last Saturday evening. My fellow classmates were friendly and pleased to be among the healthy and living. We were soberly shocked about the deceased peers and eerily wondered who would be there in 10 years. As a whole, the 60 something alumni looked trim and healthy, very few obese people. The women were looking more coiffed than the men. The classmates who are Hispanic, Black, Asian, and other darker skin mixtures definitely aged the most beautifully.Where had the intervening years gone? The day before the party, some of us--former students--took a tour of our school, an interesting and ice-breaking experience. What a joy to see the young, inquisitive, busy youngsters, staying "after school" on a Friday, unheard of in our day! The kids were actually very friendly.
The sweetest bonds were from elementary school. Where did the intervening years go? Here I was, "Karen Levi", different but the same. I was touched by those who remembered me, being of the insecure type. More people recalled me or said they did than I ever expected; they seemed authentic, and I like to see the positive in people. Granted, I was in school with some of these individuals for about 10 years. (I attended K and 1st grade in another area of San Francisco.) My high school is an academic school, open to students from all over the city, so it did not offer non-academic courses, such as shop and home economics. However, it happened to be located not far from my elementary and junior high schools.
Seeing old acquaintences and friends reminded me that I have always been who I am. To be recognized was a validation of who I was then and now. The reunion was a coming-home in the truest sense, a return to the me of 17 (almost 18) who became the me of 68.We changed voluntarily and naturally, but we were subjected to a great deal of criticism, judgement, and comment. Added to that was the self analysis that occured, immense in our maturational years, when the emphasis on "self improvement" was so prevalent. Of course, I am a better version of the original Karen, but I have come full-circle back to myself, minus all of the self trash talk. My friends and acquaintences in school were not all that different from my present social circle. Now I am educated, both academically, professionally, and emotionally, not purely influenced by my parents.
The journey of traveling from my 17-18 year old me to 68 year old Karen was a winding road, complete with switchbacks, near disasters over cliffs, smooth riding, and driving through a fog; at times, I laughed, and then I cried. The coastal highway of the past 50 years has been a noteworthy trip. Hopefully, I am moving to the wider, straighter slightly inland highway, not boring but a bit easier to navigate. I am smiling about the reunion.