"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

07 October 2018

Facing Forward While Looking Back

image courtesy of the Herkimer High School Class of 1978

40 years.  

40 years since I had seen this group of people. In fact, the last time I saw any of these people was at our graduation day in June 1978, from a little high school in a little village in central New York.  The village was charming....as small towns in the central region of NY can be....and yet today....not so much.  It's no longer the charming, quaint village with the cute, bustling shops and people strolling on the sidewalks. Now there are cracks, crime, closed-down shops,  run-down homes, yet in the midst of it all, there are a handful of acquaintances who still live there and call this their home. And in the midst of the squalor are pockets of the genteel homes...those stone foundations...and the high school that sits on the edge of town that we all walked to if we didn't live a mile away.  Not much changes...yet everything does.

As I pulled into this country club setting on a hill overlooking the lush valley, I felt excitement, dread, and anticipation.  Dread because my three very best friends (Usha, Cheryl, Lori) were not going to be there.  They are the ones I have kept in touch with the most.  They are the ones to whom I've attended weddings, who came to mine, who sent me cards when my daughters were born, who wrote letters during college and with whom I connected with first on social media.  I was facing this milestone reunion without my best childhood friends and let's face it....Herkimer was cliquey back in the 1970s.  I had nothing in common with most of the people whom I graduated with, other than the ones who were in music and theater or my youth group from church.  Yet, there was this anticipation.

You see, I had reconnected with some classmates via social media.  And over the last couple of years, I have "seen" them online and felt like they were old friends.  Because really, what is friendship??

and yet....in high school, these people really weren't the definition of "friend". More like acquaintance or classmate.  And in looking back, as I face forward with my life, I realize the definitions don't matter.

We are changed.  There are really no more cliques......and if one felt like there were, well, ask your self "why?"

I saw changed lives, changed looks (some people I did not know at all nor could I remember them unless they were wearing their name tag with the attached yearbook photo!).

As I stepped out to the car with my husband by my side, one of the first people to say Hello and give me a hug was one I had reconnected with on FB.  I always enjoy her posts...she teaches yoga which I think is so cool and she is downright sweet. And another woman, whom I didn't even remember graduated with us (I thought she was a year older!!) had changed so much physically and was so friendly.....I immediately felt "at home".  Here we were at our 40th reunion!!  It's amazing that we have all had these lives that no one really knows about unless you have kept in touch all these years.  And I haven't.  

As soon as I graduated, I went off to a different city in the western part of NY, and earned my degree.  And then a few years later, moved to the capital region of NY, where I have stayed to get my masters, to teach, get married and raise our daughters.  Rarely did I go back to my childhood home.  There's pain in the growing up and in the looking back.

But there's excitement too in the looking back and seeing just how far one has come on their personal journey.  Not one person in high school knew I was struggling with being a sexual abuse survivor by the hands of a church person from my summer church camp.  I never spoke of it until my young adulthood and certainly not until after dealing with counseling (thank God for good counselors!!) and forgiveness. That's not something that was revealed back then nor talked about.  When you can't talk about it to your own family, why in the world would I talk about it to high school peers??

Yet, in the sharing of our lives in the past 4 decades, I have reached out to some people and shared this part of my journey.  And as I look back, there were so many cliques and so many "mean girls" (and yes some bully boys), that I just didn't want to associate with these people. And yet......

.... in the facing forward.....well...we have changed.  Every single one of us. Maybe some haven't moved away and still look the same, but deep inside where character and integrity lie, most have changed.  For the better.  My self included.

 and last night? there were no cliques!!  Everyone is the same because we all have changed. Not just physically, but emotionally. In our character. Or at least the people with whom I communicated.

We are all on a journey....looking back yet facing forward, ...and it's in the forward that we can embrace one another as long time friends. The cattiness and cliques have fallen away.  People mature. Now the common ground is the fact that we have all come from this small high school...and we all embrace the memories we do have, whether it's with each other or people who weren't there (at the reunion),  and that is the beautiful part called Life.  Life moves us onward, and around stumbling blocks at times, and sometimes life moves us spiritually, if we embrace God.  Some people may not move in a spiritual sense but they have moved on in their thinking, in some way.

I saw people who rarely spoke to me during my 4 years at high school yet last night, we chatted like long lost friends.  Why??  because.....

we know....we know we are connected...the green and white?? they're just our school colors.  But green signifies growth.....and my how I've grown, as have you, .....apart, from the old village, but there are roots there and roots get tangled at times and then bloom into something beautiful......

we know we are just here for a moment on this Earth.  and no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, you know life is fleeting.

So...reunions.....it was my first, and most likely my last, high school reunion.  It was fun to see these classmates of mine and to chat with the ones who were open to breaking silences.  I could be my self at this reunion like I couldn't in high school.  Because life changes you.....and there's a confidence I never really had on the inside although I was quite good at masking it on the outside.....

and in my observations, I think many people were like that.  If they are honest.

And although I am so thankful to have moved away, and that I have a circle of good friends I do life with, I'm also thankful to have gone to this 40th celebration and look back at my roots......

....in looking back, we can face the future, while holding precious memories in our hearts.

God bless you!!

ps  thank you to Rudy and Joan (among others) for putting this reunion together.  How fun it was and how awesome to see so many people from our class.  God bless you as you move forward in your lives. 

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