Madison Red Devils class reunion of 1962 and I am there. My first (ever!) high school reunion. Fifty years ago these people and I charged into the world, trying our wings, eyes filled with terror and joy, ready to change society. Or not.
Now, on this fine August day we are mostly retired or in second careers, and questioning ‘where did the years go’? Eight are gone. Several died before reaching thirty and others made it into their sixties.
Integration, Interstate 10, two mascot changes, and a new high school have happened. John Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated. Successive ill-advised and futile wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have driven us into vitriolic politics and partial economic collapse. Global warming, conservation issues, hurricanes, and oil spills exacerbate our distress. No matter.
Some of us ventured away to college, drifted north, and/or fought in Viet Nam. We carried memories with us, redefined selves, and carefully guarded that thin line which tethered us to a place called home.
I have lunch at a local restaurant with people that helped shape me. I celebrate our collective and individual survival. Hugs are exchanged. We reminisce. Later in the afternoon, I roam the county, visiting places that shaped my youth, shaped me. My drive is a journey inward.
Thomas Wolfe had it right- you can’t go home again. On the other hand, a visit every fifty years is grounding.