This past weekend, G and I headed to Philadelphia where I went to my 25th college reunion, and he went to his 30th high school reunion. So strange to see people you haven’t seen in years, decades – and to see both how they’ve changed and how they haven’t.
- “Some people here look 15 years older” – That was G’s observation on Friday night at my reunion welcome event. It was true. For the most part, the women looked similar. I guess we can wear makeup, get our hair colored and get botox? Women looked like slightly older versions of ourselves in college, but with updated looks. Gone are the baggy, oversized sweatshirts (what were we thinking?) and weird 80s/90s hair and makeup. The men? Some looked good, but there were quite a few who had gained weight and gained gray. I mean, a lot of both. I hate to say it, but a head of mostly white hair, made some otherwise age-appropriate guys look 10 years older.
- Some people have long memories for slights – As a joke, one of G’s friends mentioned that there was one guy from high school he was really hoping to see – to kick his ass. That was only half a joke. Some people were very friendly and forthcoming, just wanting to connect after so much time. Others seemed to still remember some definitely forgotten slight or fight. I guess once a bitch, always a bitch.
- We haven’t changed our cores, just how our core selves manifest – Awkward people are a little less awkward, I guess life takes care of that. Neurotic people got more neurotic. Again, life shaped them in that direction. But the girl who always seemed so sweet and docile? She’s edgier and not such a pushover. I guess life intervenes and her true self is a bit more apparent. We’re both smoother and sharper versions of ourselves.
The years pile up even if it doesn’t look obvious – Of a gathering of 8 college friends, two had mothers with advanced Alzheimer’s and another two had their mothers pass away in the last 2-3 years. That’s a harsh reality on Mother’s Day Weekend. And a preview of what’s to come for the rest of us, alas.
What else? From G’s private high school, a number of folks had made their way back to Philadelphia. Maybe it makes sense that local folks are over-represented at reunion. But it was also a statement about Philadelphia. It’s still a small place and people tend to stick around. From G’s class – everyone was married, or had been. I think I recall one single mom and a single dad, each divorced. Almost everyone I talked to had kids – from the older mom or dad with a 3-4 year old, to the ones who had kids heading to college in the next year or two.
That’s a sharp contrast to my group. Three of the women have never married. They’ve all been in long-term relationships, just for a number of reasons, never got hitched. Another 2 or 3 of us don’t have children (I’m not certain about one of the gals). A friend turned to me and said, “I always thought I would have kids, but as things got closer to decision time, we decided we liked our lives too much.” She has 2 cats. Exactly. So the traditional family – married parents, kids – was the minority in our gathering. Unscientific sample, of course, and many of the other sorority sisters in our cohort are married with kids. Even still, we outliers aren’t such outliers here.