Saturday, August 1, 2009

1969 was 40 years ago must be reunion time

cartoon from

Those truly linked don't need correspondence. When they meet again after many years apart, Their friendship is as true as ever.
- Deng Ming-Dao

Lately, friendship has been on my mind a lot. I mistakenly believed an initial reunion date - in late July - to be when my 40th high school reunion was to take place. Unaware that the committee had changed the date to August, and having not fully read the invitation when it arrived in the mail, I already had made up my mind that I would skip this one.

So, now that I know that the reunion in Reno is on August 14 and 15, and now that I've had an email from a good friend (who is on the reunion committee for the last time because she plans on leaving Reno when she retires and, well, you can guess...) telling me "tick, tick, tick . . ." to which I replied with a question as to how much time I have to let them know, and to which she then answered that I can pay at the door that Friday night - or if I want to attend the picnic only then I can pay for that on Saturday.

I can't decide. Not fully. Mike can't take time from work so he wants me to fly up to Reno. I would prefer to drive, but it's a long drive of 500 miles each way. Either option is stressful and tiring for various reasons. And what awaits at the other end, more specifically, who?

I did not like high school. I hated it. But I loved my friends, and I already know that some of them will be attending. Of course, most of the Reno crowd - those who stayed in the home town to make their lives there - will go. My friend on the committee said that they are expecting a smaller group than attended the 30th reunion because of the economy, which means the people who moved away from Reno would be those considering if it's worth the expense to travel there for these events. I'm considering that it worth buying a new outfit (I rarely shop), hotel room in Reno, meals, possible flight costs if Mike were to prevail on the transportation issue, gas and additional motel stay on the road if I prevail, and $60 for the reunion costs? All that would be worth it if my heart leads me there. And right now my heart feels torn, kinda flip-floppy, sentimental on the sad end of the scale, just not sure it wants to beat for this emotional feast.

Didn't go to the tenth reunion. I was married to the ex, miserably so, and was drinking regularly. It was clear to me that I'd embarrass myself even if I could have taken time from work and I've always been glad I had the sensitivity (pride?) to protect myself from being that girl at the tenth reunion, the one who had done the unthinkable: become a wild child who was hell-bent on self-destruction. Instead I wrote a poem based on facts about my high school experience and semi-based on events that happened that graduation year in other schools, to other 1969 graduates. It became one of my only two published poems, finding its way in the mid-1980s into the Sunday arts supplement that The Oregonian offered at the time. I'll post it here sometime before the reunion.

Went to the 20th reunion alone; I was single and four years sober. It was a wonderful party and an enriching evening. The picnic the following day was special, with many classmates bringing their children. By the time the 30th came round Mike and I were married and, aside from a terrible sunburn he got poolside at our hotel while I was having a massage, we enjoyed the evening get-together but bailed on the picnic the next day and went to Virginia City instead, where we walked around the cemetery and strolled the wooden sidewalks, stopping at The Bucket of Blood saloon for a soda. A living ghost town ....... a high school reunion can feel like that too.

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.


Maggie May said...

I didn't go to my ten year reunion because I just didn't feel like it. And that was good enough for me.

Something you said in a post of mine about marriage made me want to ask you about your marriage. I hope that is ok...did your husband die? Your second husband? YOu had mentioned the kind of marriage you had had after I wrote my Marriage poem so i was curious to know a bit more.

Maggie May said...

OK I just reread this post and Mike IS your second I obviously was confused somewhere!

Nancy said...

I have to say - I have never been to any of my high school reunions. I don't know why, really, just that I never felt the desire. Most of my friends were out of school when I graduated. In fact most of them didn't graduate! It was 1971, and some got their GED, going on to college. Some died of overdoses. (It was the early 70's after all.) So not sure the ones that would be there would be the ones I want to see.

Downtown Reno has changed and is more interesting. You might enjoy the area around the river. New ballpark right downtown. Tahoe is lovely! I'd meet you for a soda, but I'll be driving with my daughter and her baby back to Portland.

Ande said...

Hi Lydia,

Hmm, lucky you, experienced the sixties (and early seventies)!:) Almost all the music which I love is from this time. I liked your description of the school reunions; I guess they can be strange sometimes, full of emotions.

Erin Davis said...

I do not believe for one moment, young lady, that you graduated from high school 40 years ago! :0)
I've never gone to any of my reunions (5th, 10th, 20th...). I keep in touch with anyone I'm still interested in from high school, and I could never get my best friend to go with me. "A living ghost town" is kind of how I imagined my reunions would feel.
Great cartoon!

YogaforCynics said...

Personally, I'd rather beat myself in the head with a waffle iron than go to a high school reunion. One thing I'll say about social media, though, is that, through Facebook, I have had reunions with a number of old friends--and I've gotten repreated ignored friend requests from somebody I knew in junior high and high school who, to the best of my recollection, never in six years said anything to me that wasn't abusive.

As for 1969, I've always thought it'd be cool to get my band to play a fortieth anniversary of Altamont show, perhaps with members of the Taliban as security. Alas, I have neither a band nor any particular musical talent anybody's ever been able to discern, so this dream may not come true...

Rhiannon said...

Well, I for one can relate Lydia! I graduated in 1969 also. At a H.S. in San Fernando valley in lost angels county. There sure was a lot going on in 69' wasn't there? I was very shy and the troubles at home made it real hard for me in school. Like you I literally hated H.S.. I couldn't wait to graduate and get out of there and the fact that I did graduate had me smiling from ear to ear on graduation day while everyone else was "crying" over the good memories and the "ole sentimental days"..I had no feelings like that just "I'm finally getting out of here yeah! I wasn't quite wild yet like you but I did get more wild after H.S..

I never went to one H.S. reunion. I think I regret that. There was one just a few months ago in April but I was moving into my own place (Finally) then and had no resources to have gone. One of my "Two" girlfriends from H.S. we stayed connected until the Iraq war started and she didn't like my feelings about the war or how I felt about Bush..even though she and her husband had just about always trashed any opinion I might have about politics all those years! She always liked going to the reunion so "we can show them" slim we were and had "matured beautifully" and she always wanted to get back at all those "now fat" cheerleaders and such she always said. That never meant anything to me I never understood her resentments or wanting to "show of".

Okay, enough of that. I'm of the opinion that you should give the reunion a shot. Flying is can just sit back and watch the clouds for a while. It forces you to do "nothing" and is very me it's always been this way. What if your friend in Vegas finds a reservation for you at a cheaper motel that has a microwave kitchen deal? Can she pick you up at the airport or take a bus terminal to where you need to go? Or can she pick you up at your motel to take you to the reunion? That might work well.

My dear blog friend SisStar Kylita was very nervous and scared to go to her H.S. reunion last month aslo..she had to really push herself to do it and she just shared with me she has no regrets that she went.

So, I hope you make it here Lydia. If you do take some photos and share the "Good times" you had there..if you go..that is..;o)

Glad you liked my template top of my post. I had fun making that pic a matching color that would go with my post and adding the text and such on my photo express..I just love doing that. If you go check the pic out again you can see quite a few animal and human faces scattered about in the artwork. It's from a beautiful card I found years ago and I scanned it. Oh, and thank you for your thoughtful comment on my most recent post Lydia.

Love and Blessings and stay cool! 109 here the other day!


francessa said...

Lydia, I skipped the last reunion, because I had already booked a flight to somewhere else. I skipped the one before that because I remembered the antepenultimate one which was actually nice and amusing. And why? Because I'm already in touch with the few colleagues that really matter and wouldn't have wanted to spoil the overall good impression of that former meeting. Because the one before that was rather depressing: the same cliques, the same attitudes as between ages 15 to 19.

Apparently, I really enjoy those reunions (for one evening) but only every third or forth time.

Rhiannon said...

P.S. Sorry I stated "Vegas" it's a part of my dyslexia deal and my poor memory at times. I also had a thought...below..I would worry about you if you drove..truely I would.

I also had a thought Lydia. I'm of the opinion that driving to Reno might not be a good it's not good to be a woman "alone" driving so far away from home. It's pretty dangerous out there and if you get stuck somewhere or whatever..well just take if from a single woman on my own all these years you've got to be real careful.

if you decide to go and do drive..a bit of advice..always look as if you are very confident and know what you are doing..even if you don't! People are like dogs (i.e. crazy scray men out there)and can smell fear a mile away..I only drop my guard when I come back home and shut the sad as it is the world is this way and we must always be very careful. I speak from lots of experience.

Let me know if you decide to go.


Darlene said...

I went to my H.S. 50th reunion and had the same trepidations that you have. Much to my surprise, I had a wonderful time. Those snobbish girls that I didn't like turned out to be warm and friendly. Some people do grow up.

I didn't attend another one until my 65th reunion. I got to see the interior of a private club that I had always been curious about and had a lovely time.

I think it depends on the committee and how good a job they do in planning the activities whether you find it enjoyable or not.

Anonymous said...

Never went to my 10th anniversary reunion, and I've discovered that apparently there's a 20th year one in the planning later this year (has it really been 20 years?).

I'm very ambivalent about going. Never liked high school. Didn't really enjoy much of it, being the dorky girl who somehow hung with the cooler girls because my best friend since we were two, grew up to be one of the popular kids. I did not.

Never felt like I fitted in at all, and it was a huge time of emotional upheaval for me, and then failure, when I managed to spectacularly sabotage myself and fail the final year of school.

The idea of going back to those people (most of whom married young/already have grown up kids) just doesn't seem natural to me.

What will we have in common? Very little, I'd imagine. Except for those horrible uniforms...

Hattie said...

What kind of events are planned?
Maybe you need an adventure. It could be fun.
But I don't know. There is only one person from HS that I really would like to see and have lost track of, but I doubt if she would come to a reunion. And I am in touch with the other person I was close to.
It is true that those who stayed in the area are most likely to attend these reunions.
But as I said, I don;t know. I have seen photos of some of my ex-classmates and, well, it's funny. I don't recognize them as the old people they have become, and they are much cuter in their HS photos than I recall!
Hmm, it bears thinking about. I might attend the next one, which will probably span several years rather than just one class.
What I would really like is to see are some of my favorite teachers, although they would be very old by now.

Lydia said...


@Maggie May- You were probably missed at your 10 year reunion but it's good you went with what felt right.
Sorry for the other confusion. Mike is very much alive and well. I believe your poem brought memories of a past relationship, not a marriage.

@Nancy- It sounds like your class experienced the troubles of the times. It's sad, but there were also really great things about that time in history too.
I drove through downtown Reno when I visited a few years ago and was amazed at some of the positive changes. I really would like to spend time looking around....

@Ande- I really do consider myself lucky to have experienced the 60s and early 70s. I wish we could time travel so you could spend some time there, and I could return for just a short while. The music was the best!

@Erin- Believe it, but keep comments like that coming! :)
Do you care to share where you attended HS (town)? It sounds like you have no regrets about not being a reunionee (how's that for a word!).

YogaforCynics- A waffle iron...where's your school spirit, Jay? (School spirit nauseated me.)
I am curious beyond measure as to why you would continue sending friend requests to someone who was verbally abusive to you for six years! You must have a good reason but that "friend" deserves the waffle iron treatment, not you.
....1969 Altamont 40th reunion concert is a great idea with a security force to die for, probably literally. Get your rocker nature going on this, please. (O, I just got my rocker nephew's first cd in the mail last week. It is absolutely so amazing!)

@Rhi- Hey, a fellow 1969 mate! That's so fun. More fun than either of us had in HS. I remember that graduation and not wanting to go, but it would have disappointed my mother too much to make an issue of it. We had our first reunion the following day at Lost Beach at Lake Tahoe (I wonder if that beach is still as isolated as it was then...) with watermelons that had been filled with vodka (a doctor's daughter had the syringe, etc.)
Interesting, isn't it, how the Iraq war split up friendships and family relations? Thanks W.
Mike checked a bunch of hotel options today in conjunction with a flight. I appreciate your thoughts on the pluses of going by air. Unfortunately, tonight we watched "Red Eye" on the TV movie! :)

@Francessa - You are always flying somewhere, it seems! It's so interesting that you refer to those people as colleagues. That places your former classmates in a higher category than I place mine (or me). I absolutely agree with you that there's something to be said about keeping it to one evening and not each and every reunion.

@Rhi- O, I should have responded to your second comment in my earlier one! I do hear what you're saying. I've just never had fear as a woman traveling on the road alone, even at night. I am super aware but not fearful in the ways you describe. Which is strange because I had one terrifyingly close call out in Harney County years ago. Not another soul around and me stopped on a desert dirt road taking pictures when I see the dirt trail spinning indicating an approaching car. It was a man I'd spoken with in Denio, Nevada, hours before. I stopped at that border town just to be in my home state for a quick bite to eat and to clean my camera lens. Stupidly, when he asked where I was headed I told him exactly. It never crossed my mind that this guy would actually drive...mmm, about 40 miles to follow me. I acted firm and focused and it's one of those times I know I was protected by something I could not see.

@Darlene- You are so darn great! I love your positive nature and the fact that you've enjoyed both your 50th and 65th reunions!
Also, your matter-of-fact appraisal of the committee's planning is astute. I am aware that there have been squabbles among some members of the committee. I don't know if that's par for the course but it makes me less inclined to go.

Lydia said...

@svasti- Be sure to check back for my poem about not attending my 10th reunion; it sounds like you'll understand where I was coming from. Also, your failing the final year? I came sooooo close to doing the same thing that it wasn't a given I'd be graduating until we were doing some rehearsal thing at the auditorium and they posted final grades outside in the lobby. I know that you know that we both failed ourselves and were perfectly capable of having been shining academic stars if not for the way we experienced and reacted to turmoil and bullshit.
I think you should consider going to your 20th, based only on how wonderful mine was. There is a chance for consolation and renewal there, and you can always leave if it doesn't suit you.

@Hattie- The events are a buffet dinner Fri. night at a tennis club that wasn't there when I lived there. That runs from 7:30-9:30, but the invitation says the event that evening goes until midnight. Since there isn't a mention of live music I assume there will be a live dj, or who knows, maybe not and that time is meant for milling around the bar and talking.
The following day noon to 4:00 is a BBQ at Reno's oldest park, one that holds the sweetest memories for me.
Where some of the Reno crowd are people I actually have known since grade school, I haven't stayed in touch. It would be nice to see some of them. My best girlfriend from 6th-9th grade married a classmate of mine and she was at the 20th, but not the 30th because they had divorced. She had changed so much.
I do know that I wouldn't recognize many of them, and heck, maybe they wouldn't recognize me. I have begun growing out the gray in my hair, although I haven't changed the wording in my profile yet. Plus, I have braces on my teeth which is so funny! Perhaps the 45th would be a better deal for me...
And wouldn't it be nice to see some of the teachers? I tried getting in touch with my favorite some years ago, going so far as to contact alumni groups at his universities mentioned in the yearbook. There was no current record of him, and that made me sad because I wanted to tell him that his class had a huge affect on me. Still does.

Carlos Lorenzo said...

This post almost sounds like a novel passage. Such is the richness of your prose. Hmm, 500 miles is too far away. Maybe if the two of you could go you will find the courage to attend. I have been to similar experiences and I have found some excuse not to go. I think you don't have to feel guilty or something for not going. Sometimes the distance is a big obstacle. That doesn't mean you lose friends, they will understand. But at the same time you would like to be there. And there we go again :)

Mariana Soffer said...

I don't understand why not wanting to spend time and money to meet up with people you haven't had contact with for 25 years is somehow dysfunctional. Or means you're bitter. Or scarred. I can think of a lot of things I would do with my hard-earned money and limited vacation time - like seeing people I care about/who care about me, whether 25 years ago or no - but spending it on people who have never cared about me, and who I couldn't wait to get away from? That's completely irrational.

I went to my 20th HS reunion, out of curiosity more than anything else. Oddly, even people who I knew had changed (both positively and negatively) in the intervening 20 years reverted back to high school at the reunion. Surreal.

Chuck Dilmore said...

great post!
you will make the right choice.
go with your instincts!

i LOVE that you are playing the Bookends Theme! (which happens to have made it into my book.) beautiful synchronicity!


bfk said...

Dear Lydia,
If you go, you're definitely going to having something really interesting to write about. It's your nature.

And if you don't, you won't.

I say go.

Owen said...

Hi Lydia, whatever you do about the reunion, your writing about the dilemma here is thoroughly entertaining...

I haven't gone to any of the reunions organized over the years. Last year was the 30th (I'm just a young pup...) and for the first time I was tempted to go, but it was in the USA, and I'm here in France, couldn't see paying for a trans-atlantic flight in these hard times. But one good thing did come out of it... the organizers had set up a little blog and invited people from the class to post old photos or whatever to that blog... and that is how I "discovered" the blogosphere. Had totally missed that boat over the years during which blogging had been catching on and growing like wild... so now I'm making up for lost time... :-)

Lydia said...

@Carlos- Thank you. And yes, there we go again. I am still undecided as the weekend closes. Perhaps a pros/cons list is in order.....

@Mariana- You are great for a shot of reality. Good points on the irrational side to this. That must have been surreal when people reverted back to HS at your 20th. As I think more on my 20th I realize there was some of that, but I was shocked and impressed by the civility that night.

@Chuck- Thanks, and I will go with my instincts; but I need to find them before I can go anywhere with them.
How 'bout that synchronicity, as you termed it, with the Bookends Theme? Makes me want to read your book even more now, and I do promise to order it.

@bfk- You're right. There would be lots to write about. And you could do the same if you just hadn't accelerated beyond the rest of the class of 1969 and (to use your phrase) got out of Dodge early and graduated in 1968.
I'm taking your counsel to heart even if you did abandon your friends so long ago. :)

@Owen- Thanks for that. :)
I was fascinated by your story of how your 30th reunion was ultimately the catalyst for your beginning blogging.
My screwy flat graduation hat with the tassel is off to your reunion organizers for making you a blogger!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I can't even imagine wanting to go to a school reunion - though i did go along to my junior school when they were about to tear it down.

I went into the school room where the evil bastard of a teacher that had made me doubt my ability to do anything had worked and everything felt so small.

I guess i've kept in touch with the few people i wanted to - but even that gets hard sometimes.

There's that danger of trying to capture the person you were, but maybe its also a celebration of having survived and become who you are?

Personally i think you and mike should take a long road trip up and rediscover yourselves and your country - but ultimately i think you should follow your hearts and be happy - that's all that matters really xx

Erin Davis said...


I went to high school in Garden Grove, CA--which is also where I lived my whole life until I moved to Spokane 4 years ago. I have some good memories of Pacifica high school, but I was never one of those crying and proclaiming "these were the best days of our lives" at graduation. I couldn't wait to move on! If I had still lived in GG for my 20th, perhaps I would have gone. Who knows?

koe whitton-williams said...

Lydia - go to the reunion. I've only been to one of mine - last year, the 35th. It was like holding a bouquet of dried flowers. . . we all sort of looked the same but we were a bit more fragile. I'll go to 40 - to say hello, to touch susan's hand, to see martha's blue, blue eyes to hear buzz aldrin say that he is the funniest person ever to attend st. morphine hs. . . that kind of stuff.

Lydia said...

@Pixies- I sure am getting some diverse impressions of reunions here!
Mike and I can't take the trip together; his work situation is intense right now. That doesn't make either one of us especially happy. :[

@Erin- So you were a California girl. One who has fallen in love with the Little Spokane.....
Like you, I knew those weren't the best days of my life. Each phase has had best days.

@koe- holding a bouquet of dried flowers.
That is so beautifully expressed and it is how I felt looking at the faces of my friends ten years ago. I felt that same way at the Paul McCartney concert in Tacoma in the early 2000s.
Now, tell true, your high school wasn't really named St. Morphine! And Buzz Aldrin a classmate? I don't know if you are pulling my leg...guess I'd better Google his bio and check out the age. :)

Anonymous said...

Lydia - you caught me. The school wasn't really called St. Morphine and Buzz Aldrin, well I made that up too. . . but you should still go to your reunion.



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