by Kassandra Lamb
Hubs and I went to his 50th high school reunion this last Friday.
Wow, just wow!
Back in high school, we didn’t really get that we would someday be 50 years old, much less 50 years out of high school.
The reunion committee had a rather cool idea. They passed out black and white pics of people’s faces out of the yearbook as everyone registered. Your task was to find the person in the picture and give them their photo.
My husband has a good memory. He was pretty sure he knew who the woman was in his picture, but try as we might we couldn’t find her. She was a pretty dark-eyed blonde, with a thin face.
The exercise brought home to us how generic old people look. Most had added a few pounds, some quite a few pounds. Most had gray or white hair. And if they didn’t, it was with the help of hair dye, so hair color was now irrelevant.
We walked around that big room full of old people and stared at name tags until our eyes crossed. We finally concluded that the woman whose picture he’d drawn had opted not to attend the reunion.
Then the mostly overweight, gray-haired cheerleaders and majorettes took over the dance floor and twirled their batons to the old school fight song.
And there was another thin-faced, blonde woman (not the one in hubs’ picture) who had won the genetics lottery for aging. She was still thin, still full of pep, and with no varicose veins spoiling her shapely legs.
Oh, her face had her fair share of wrinkles when she turned our way, mostly crow’s feet around her sparkling eyes and smile lines around her mouth. “Look at Kerry Ann!” rippled through the auditorium. But everyone seemed happy for her.
It was obvious her well-preserved self was not the product of plastic surgery or anorexic-type dieting. She’d just gotten lucky regarding her gene pool. And perhaps her positive attitude toward life had helped.
But even though she seemed to have more energy than those around her, she didn’t seem to have any more spirit.
And that was the other thing that struck me about this crowd of aging people. They were full of joie de vivre. They were happy.
Of course, some of that happiness had to do with the party atmosphere and the cash bar. But I was reminded of how inaccurate the myth of aging is – the one about how old people are grumpy and discontent.
Their lives hadn’t always gone in the direction they’d expected. Some had married young and divorced almost as young, only to remarry the loves of their lives. While others had stayed divorced, or had divorced multiple times.
Others had married their high school sweethearts and were still married 48 years later! Indeed, there were quite a few long-term marriages in the crowd.
Many had gone into predictable professions–like my husband, the French linguist, who was greeted more than once as Mr. Frenchie. And the guy from the automobile mechanics vocational program who now owned his own dealership that he was about to pass on to his son.
Still others had become something entirely different than anticipated.
I met one particularly interesting woman who had planned to marry and raise children. That hadn’t quite worked out so she’d devoted her life to her profession and her nieces and nephews. She seemed pretty content with the whole thing.
Indeed, I didn’t detect any of the angst that had been just beneath the surface for some of the people who’d been at my own 30th reunion (the last one I attended before we left Maryland). And there was a lot less of the posturing I remembered from that reunion.
No one seemed to care anymore about what others thought of their success or lack thereof. We were just a bunch of old people who’d gotten together to reminisce and have a good time.
I concluded that, by the time we’ve reached our sixties, we’ve come to grips with our dreams. Either life has turned out as we planned or we’ve adjusted the plan. Sometimes life has actually taken some interesting twists and turns for which we’re downright grateful.
Indeed, life is sometimes what happens while we’re making other plans. And that isn’t always a bad thing.
How about you? Have you had times when life took you in some unexpected direction that turned out better than anticipated?
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.
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Marcy KennedySeptember 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm
Loved this post! I think I came face to face with the “life is what happens while we’re making other plans” idea this year. (It was more like I ran into it and broke my nose, but that’s semantics.) My husband and I realized we’d been making a lot of plans, but not doing a lot of living, and so we’ve made some changes. I’ll probably end up blogging about it in the new year.
Kassandra LambSeptember 27, 2016 at 7:38 pm
You all definitely ran into that reality head on! Glad some positive changes have come out of it. Looking forward to hearing about how you and Chris are living life to the fullest in the new year. Hugs!!
Irv TuckerSeptember 28, 2016 at 12:50 am
You said it very well, my friend. I agree with your assessments. You know the twists and turns in my life, lots of things I would have never foreseen. My 50th will be held next fall. I’ve been drafted to be part of the planning committee (lots of coordination via the intetnet).
Kassandra LambSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:21 am
My hat is off to you, Irv. We were talking awhile to the gentleman who headed the coordination committee for this one. It’s a lot of work!!! But at least we do have the Internet these days. Can you imagine the long distance phone bills of previous coordination committees?
Glad you enjoyed the post!
Karen McFarlandSeptember 28, 2016 at 3:24 am
We made an unexpected move to live near our eldest son and his wife. Then afterwards, we found out we were to become grandparents to twins. That was an added benefit we hadn’t expected. ?
So glad you and your hubby enjoyed the reunion. I cannot believe how fast time passes. 50 years. Wow is right.
Kassandra LambSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:28 am
Congratulations!! Twins — wow to that! Bet they are very glad to have grandmom and granddad close by to help.
And yeah, how did all those years disappear on us like that?
K.B. OwenSeptember 28, 2016 at 8:39 am
Great post, Kass! I went to my 30 year reunion, which was fun, but it was a bit of a disconnect for me. I attended a large school (570+ students in my graduating class) and my personality (especially back then) was such that I wasn’t plugged in to the popular football/cheerleader crowd. Being nerdy wasn’t cool back then the way it is now! Still, it was good to connect with a few friends who attended, but I doubt I’ll go to another one.
My husband, on the other hand, attended a private prep school heavily focused on academics and military service (which fits his personality quite well) and had a graduating class of 60. We’ve attended those reunions and they are much more fun!
One of the many things I like about being an adult is that I can now choose the company I keep!
Kassandra LambSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:26 am
Glad you liked it, Kathy.
“Dissconnect” is the right word for my 30th. Like yours, mine was a very large class and I was far from being among the most popular kids. But it just seemed like everybody was more invested in showing off than in reconnecting with old friends.
And amen to being able to choose who we hang out with now!! 🙂
Vinnie HansenSeptember 28, 2016 at 4:50 pm
I enjoyed your post, Kass. There were about 40 kids in my graduating class in Philip, South Dakota, and many of them had been my classmates since first grade. I never have any trouble recognizing who people are. As a matter of fact, to me, some of them look just the same!
Kassandra LambSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm
I can see how it wouldn’t be hard to recognize everyone. And isn’t amazing how some people don’t change all that much?
August McLaughlinOctober 10, 2016 at 10:17 am
Very fun to read, Kassandra! And timely, as I’ve recently been invited to my 20 year high school reunion, coming up next year. I love that spirit doesn’t have to wane, no matter what society says about outward aging. This post made me feel like dancing. 🙂
Kassandra LambOctober 10, 2016 at 10:52 am
So glad you enjoyed the post, August! Most definitely spirit need not wane (and usually doesn’t, unless the person was rather bitter to start with). As a friend once said on the occasion of her birthday, “How did my 25-year-old mind get trapped in this 50-year-old body?”