Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fifty Years Ago and Feeling Old

 June, 1968. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” hits #1 on the charts…Andy Warhol survives an attempt on his life…Bobby Kennedy is assassinated…the first Legoland park opens in Denmark…The movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ premieres…Poor People’s March on Washington takes place…

And I graduate high school.

Fifty years ago.

I mention this episode in my life because my high school class is planning a 50th reunion. The big get-together is scheduled for October.

A couple of gung-ho grads started the process, contacting people they knew and inquiring about interest in a reunion.

Enthusiastic, positive responses poured in.

Over 550 General Douglas MacArthur High School graduates comprise the class of 1968. The committee is trying to locate as many as possible. People connect on Classmates.com. Reunion organizers set up a Facebook page dedicated to the event. Folks RSVP online they’re definitely coming, definitely NOT coming, hoping to make it. Too many cannot attend because of ill health, either their own problems or issues with significant others. Some admit financial restraints. And I suspect a lot do not want to dredge up negative teenage memories.

Names are posted on Facebook. Anyone with information comments on an individual’s last-known status. People scour Instagram, Facebook and other social media seeking classmates and spreading the word.

There is a melancholy note to the effort. The number of deceased grows. From dying in Vietnam to passing only a couple of days ago, the list of departed lengthens.

One thing is certain. I feel old.

Alumni post up-to-date pictures of themselves, creating an album of grandmas and grandpas, over-the-hill, overweight, gray, and bald (men only) mature men and women. I am one of those people. I posted my yearbook photo and a current picture. 
Then...
...and now.
I plan on attending the reunion, barring unforeseen circumstances, because I want to find out how peoples’ lives unfolded.

I scan old photos and recent ones, reaching back into my brain files, attempting to connect names and faces with memories dormant for decades. Peoples’ names sound familiar, yearbook pictures look vaguely recognizable, but my memory is hazy on details.

I did not maintain contact with high school friends and I was not a high school shining star (a real designation in my school). I was not a cheerleader or athlete, or a nerd (I don’t think we used that term, but they existed). I was one of the masses, plugging along day after day, not popular (sounds better than unpopular), one of too many kids crammed into a school built for baby boomers as suburbia sprawled across the landscape.

Meanwhile I have a lot to do before the reunion. I need to lose a few pounds, connect with old friends so I have some people to talk to, go clothes shopping (the occasion a good excuse for a new outfit)…

And come to terms with the fact that 50 years ago I graduated high school.