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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Go Spartans!

I flew to Virginia for a quick overnight last week for a tiny version of my 25th high school reunion. There were a few folks who missed getting in this shot and even more who were there in spirit.

It was a gathering of friends who've known each other since we were children. Since we were younger than many of our own kids are now. We enjoyed each other through teenage years, college and those innocent, early days of careers and families. Christmas cards, the internet, shared international postings and all too infrequent visits keep us connected. But never enough. So to spend 6 or 7 hours dedicated to reconnecting was fantastic.

I don't know when I have spent that many hours smiling so hard. If laughter is the best medicine, we are surely cured and inoculated for a very long time to come.

We always felt that ours was a special class. Diverse in interests and activities (and in my case, aptitude!) but always eager to celebrate each other's gifts. Among us were class leaders, academics, sports stars, writers and a few dramatic players. But not many wallflowers. We've pursued equally varied lives after graduation. It was fun, then to learn which of those childhood talents we've kept and sometimes passed along to our offspring. Or turned into avocations or professions. I mean it as a compliment when I say that many of us haven't changed all that much. (I can still high kick with the best of them. But that didn't come up...Maybe next time.)

I feel richly blessed that the very people I was devoted to 25, 30 or more years ago are ones I'm still proud to call my friends. This is exactly how we would have predicted it at our high school graduation. But now I know how fortunate we are to remain close. To share not just a past, but to be each other's cheerleaders across miles and years. To still be rooting for the same team.

I am incredibly proud of these people. Those in that room and those who we missed that night, too. They are all very successful. Sure, many of them preside over important and interesting ventures. But that hardly ever came up (unless we were trying to brag on each other's behalf!). What kept coming up was their pride in fulfilling personal lives. Their happily busy days, dedication to children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, creative endeavors. And a genuine interest and joy in being together.

Laughter filled that room. We glowed. With a warmth and admiration that will sustain us until our next visits.

If success is being so happy and grounded your own life that you eagerly celebrate others, I know some of the most successful people on the planet. And in exchange, the years have been very good to them.

Those 25 years have seen us study, travel, marry and take new and exciting jobs. We have endured disease and loss, rebuilt and renewed ourselves and welcomed an extraordinary number of babies into the world. There are teenagers among us now. There are also a few hard-earned grey hairs, wrinkles and reading glasses (And maybe it is because I was young for my grade, but I am still battling blemishes. It wasn't all perfect, that night!). But we wear it well. Life has happened to everyone in that room and etched character onto those faces and bodies in the most beautiful ways.

So to the Class of '89, I send my many thanks for a wonderful evening. For ongoing friendship. For laughter that still bubbles up when I think about it days later.

We always were a great team. And while it stings a bit for this Drill Teamer to say so, I am really happy to be your cheerleader.