Who’s yer woman? The tall one. Three pairs of eyes vectored on the poor girl as we tried in vain to place her. Names were tossed out and discarded – too short, too tall, not the right accent. Between us we couldn’t figure her out. Given that we’d been to school with everyone in the room and had probably spent five years in her company, that was bad.
Two years ago, the Class of ’83 had its 30th reunion. I missed it. While everyone else was rolling around the floor singing Rock the Boat, I was watching some Balkan friends being baptised in the River Jordan. Each to their own. By all accounts it was a great night, one that made great inroads into the next morning. I had to make do with the photographs. It felt a little voyeuristic – or worse, looking at a mugshot book down the Garda Station asking myself if I knew this person or that.
This year, half of the class turned 50, so another reunion was in order [any excuse for a party, I hear you say and what’s wrong with that?] This time, I made sure that I’d be home for it. Not as many showed up apparently [some only got as far as the bar and hadn’t made it up the stairs by the time I left so the reunioning was going on everywhere] but those that did were in fine fettle. Fifty seemed a state of mind rather than a reality. It was like being back in the prefab classrooms that were Scoil Mhuire, before the posh new school was built.
Mini biographies floated around the room, snapshot CVs that accounted for the missing 32 years. Like me, not everyone had made the last one, so for some of us it was a first get-together – and we had to do it without the benefit of name tags.
Conversations that strayed into the ‘I always thought you were… ‘ zone were perhaps the most revealing. It’s amazing how much time alters our perceptions and how, back then, as teenagers, our visions of ourselves came nowhere near to those that others had of us. Had I known then what I know now, perhaps those times might have been less difficult, less awkward, less traumatic. But hey – that’s all part of growing up.
I’ve been battling bronchitis for three weeks and was on the water. I figured I had till midnight before it all came got to be too much. But last I did. I was impressed with myself. And more than a little amused when someone told me that they didn’t recognise my voice – thankfully, that high-pitched squeak isn’t really me, no. Judging from the photos, everyone else lasted way longer. I missed the boat … again.
Some say reunions are twee. Passé. Excruciating painful. I disagree. Even without the anaesthesia of alcohol, I had a blast. I caught up with people who have popped into my mind over the years as I wondered what became of them. I got to chat with those I see all too occasionally. And I got to hear what everyone has been up to in the last few lifetimes.
To those who took the time to organise it all – you know who ye are – a massive thanks for going to the all that effort. I’m really glad I took the time to go. Appreciate the invitation.
PS. The tall girl? We finally figured it out.