Marking a milestone with my merry old mates

Marking a milestone with my merry old mates

On the short drive to the site of my 40th class reunion, Kristin and I mused over the thought that four entire decades had passed since high school. (Technically, it’s only been 39 for Kristin — I include this point, lest I be cartooned with more wrinkles and even less hair than I truly deserve.) Still, the math just doesn’t seem right.

I can distinctly remember when I was about to turn 30 years old. I was less bothered by that particular number than its proximity to the age of 40, which I saw clearly — through my then entirely unmagnified eyes — as the very definition of “old.” At 30, I figured I had 10 good years left before the creep of old age seized upon my body and I would immediately commence a direct and steady slide toward the grave. Sure, it might take another 40 years or so to get there, but the hump would have definitely been crossed.

Now there we were, my wife and I, looking at nearly 60 years in the rearview mirror. Even worse, we’d spent nearly two-thirds of that time officially defined as adults. It was an odd realization for me as a guy who still feels about 19 years old on his best days — and acts no older than 13 on more than a few.

There is magic in the tradition of the class reunion. We arrive in the guise of responsible, late-career adults, rolling up in sensible cars and wearing comfortable clothing. Each steps into the venue with a covered dish, an Igloo cooler, a warm handshake and a pleasant smile. But a sure and unseen metamorphosis takes place in a roomful of best pals from one’s high school years, and I am certain the experience is universal.

Within an hour there isn’t a soul in the room who has busted past their teens. The music plays, the conversations roll and the memories flow — memories of favorite teachers and old haunts, of daring pranks and dumb stunts, of stunning victories and agonizing defeats.

Some of those memories are of the good friends we’ve loved and lost — more numerous as the years roll on. One of my buddies wore the shoes of a classmate we lost last summer: “One last walk with the Class of ’82.” I can’t stop thinking about that.

Melancholy aside, most of our time was spent reliving the moments you wish would last forever: floating down the river on a raft of inner tubes, lying under a thundering hail of fireworks on the ball diamond, marching down the middle of Main Street hollering fevered chants for the football team or rattling the acorns out of the trees to the thump of AC/DC on your car stereo.

You sit and talk and reminisce until the truth of your years sneaks up to tug at your shirt sleeve and remind you it’s time to go home and get a good night’s sleep. It’s the sensible thing to do.

Later, as your grown-up mind winds down from a night you’ll not soon forget, you suddenly realize all those moments you wished would last forever actually have.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at jlorson@alonovus.com.