10 August 2009

Hudson's Bay High School Forty-Year Reunion

I am having trouble writing anything, or to be more accurate, completing anything. I've got several rants started now, but nothing that comes to any sort of conclusion. And for the third year in a row I've managed to miss Stan Freberg's birthday (7 August); last year I had a six-part appreciation written I intended to launch starting on the 7th, but the crash of my laptop took the material with it. Damn it.

I survived my class reunion (Hudson's Bay High School, class of 1969). I don't do well in social situations, being subject to random panic attacks brought on (usually) by the presence of large numbers of people, no matter whether they be strangers or people I know well. I had to de-stress for a bit, but I don't think anybody noticed. I suppose it doesn't really matter. I got to talk to several people I've known since grade school, and a couple of others I haven't seen in forty years. I even exchanged a few words with the girl I secretly wrote a symphony* for back in high school. (She remembered me, if a bit vaguely.) The organizers did one hell of a job; everything went smoothly (or if it didn't, they concealed it well). There were old school newspapers and yearbooks to leaf through, and a variety of foods to munch on, and adequate spaces to congregate in. It was too damn hot, but that was Nature's fault, not the organizers'.

I'd really hoped to see my one-time best friend there, but I got an e-mail from him saying he wasn't up to traveling, being between operations as it were. And another long-time friend comes to mind on these occasions; I haven't seen her since the early eighties, and never will again, unless time turns back on itself, or we meet again in some sort of afterlife. But it was interesting, and sometimes odd, catching up with people I haven't seen in decades.

There was one illuminating moment. I'd tried to write a piece about girls in math some time back, and I'd thought back to my high school "accelerated" Geometry course, where the boys outnumbered the girls by about a two-to-one ratio. The class was intended for the top students in math, but the thing I was struck by is the difference between the boys and girls. While the boys were all at least above-average students, the girls were pretty much only the very cream of the cream, academically speaking. (Two of them at least were straight-A students.) Where were (I wondered) the high-scoring girls who weren't at the very top of the class? Well, just as I was leaving, I talked briefly with one of my former classmates, and she had had my very thought, it seems, except that she had it at the time, not some decades later. She told me how, looking around at the handful of girls in the class, she had thought to herself in effect—they're all brains? what am I doing here? I doubt very much that any of the boys in that class would have had that reaction. Still, that's probably a topic for another day. Or never.

And there was one awkward moment. I'd ridden in with a long-time friend (her sister and I had hung out together in grade school) from out of town, and as we were heading out, I suddenly ran into a couple of people I'd missed during the rest of the event. On the one hand I was really interested in catching up; on the other, we were on our way out. I cut things short by indicating that my friend was waiting for me. "Are you two married?" comes the question. For me this was completely out of left field—yeah, right, I should be so lucky. I promptly disclaimed the honor—and she remarked, "Well, you didn't have to look so horrified."

This is the part where I should say something to round things off, but I can't think of a damn thing. Hurray for the buzzards, I guess, or the eagles, or whatever it was that we were some forty years back up that winding road, and maybe we'll hook up again five or ten years down it. I won't be there—but I say that every time, and still I keep showing up. Must be the karma. It does seep in, no matter how often you seal the cracks.

*Okay, it wasn't a symphony; it was the first movement for a symphony. In D minor. And I never orchestrated it. It probably would have been saner to, say, actually ask her out, but I have my limitations, and one of them was approaching one of the most popular girls in school on that particular mission. I probably should have anyway. God, she was bright, and beautiful—and still is, approaching sixty.

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