Twenty Year Reunion
I did not go to my 20th high school reunion. We didn’t go to Howard’s either. In both cases travel was expensive and the timing was not good. Then there was the fact that I didn’t feel a deep emotional need to go. I was not needing to reconnect with my younger self because I was far too busy with my current life.
This evening I went to a twenty year reunion for a comedy troupe, the Garrens, that performed on my college campus during the first years of my married life. I don’t remember how it came about, but Howard ran sound for the troupe and Howard’s brother, Randy, was part of the group. Every Friday night we would pack up the sound gear and I would watch the shows while Howard worked his mixer. I got to be a reasonably good assistant with toting the gear, but for the most part I just stayed out of the way, present but not participating. I wasn’t a member of The Garrens, I was adjacent.
Upon arriving at the reunion, my first surprise was that anyone recognized me at all, but they did. My second task was to recognize the faces of people I sort-of used to know now that they have twenty years more experience written across their features. By the end of the evening the faces just looked like the people I knew and photographs started looking really young. A comedy troupe reunion is a true pleasure because everyone who spoke was funny. I laughed a lot. Yet more important than the laughter was the real love and connection between all of these friends. They were family for each other during those formative college years. Many of them have continued to visit and spend time together through all the time that followed. I got to witness all of that.
Naturally I spent some time thinking about myself and my life twenty years ago. This is the point of reunions really, a chance to connect past with present and to recognize the passage of that time and the accumulation of experience. So much has gone fuzzy. I know that we ran sound for show after show after show, but I remember little of the shows themselves. They blur together. I remember sometimes going out to eat or laughing with the troupe members, but at that point in my life I was not good at building friendships or making lasting connections. I lost track somehow.
When the evening ended, Howard and I walked out through the Wilkinson center, which was alive with college students in the midst of Friday night antics, just like it used to be when I went to college. We looked at each other and knew that we are now the old people, the ones who show up on campus for events and then go away again. I’m actually okay with that. Ten years ago, or even five, I felt a longing to be part of that college energy, when so much was beginning. Tonight we walked on past, glad to be where and who we are. College life sounds exhausting. I like the life we’ve built.
It occurs to me that many times in my life I am the one standing next to the main event. Howard was involved with musical groups and I got to tag along. Howard ran sound for The Garrens, I assisted. When Howard took up cartooning, I’ve gone along for that ride too. I am an instinctive facilitator. It is only in the past seven years or so that I’ve started building my own things instead of coasting in the wake of other people’s things. Twenty years ago no one in The Garrens knew how much that being in a comedy troupe would affect their lives. I wonder which of the many things I’m doing now will be the one that changes everything for Sandra of twenty years from now.
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