I wasn’t always the old guy who I have become. Seven years before I ever stepped into Taiwan, and 13 years before that nation became my home, I was a young kid just graduating from high school. The 50th anniversary of came earlier this year. The reunion was held earlier this month.
I’d ignored or missed reunions that took place to mark the 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th and 40th anniversaries. Though I may well have been in California in 1974, the other ones happened a continent or an ocean away. Twenty years ago I read a book of short essays (likely recycled sermons) by the Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum. Among them there was a piece advocating attending one’s reunions. Having now retired to America, I snooped around and found my 50th.
I rode the train, rented a car, stayed with friends, and made a weekend of it. The center of the days was the Saturday evening reunion itself. As a climatic event, it was the reunion was underwhelming. Of about 650 class members, only 80 attended, and only a few of us had really kept up with each other. It seemed that everyone was staring at name tags and apologizing for not remembering. At the banquet table where I sat, two women were familiar by name only, and two others became new acquaintances. Everyone was friendly and interesting, though, including the two spouses (not members of our class) along for the evening. Marsha, the chair of the event, had engaged a professional “reunion company” to run things. She chose well. If I were the kind of person to give Yelp stars, I’d give the company 5, and the reunion itself 3.5.
Now, having been to a reunion, I’m convinced that I missed little by not going to the previous ones. But I’m glad that I didn’t blow it off. Though I’m not likely to go again should someone organize a 55th, Fulghum has come through for me. Maybe I should take some of his other suggestions. Life could get a lot more interesting.
David Alexander resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.