I graduated from Furman University in June of 1965. It was a hot, muggy day as my father and I walked out of the auditorium and my white dress clung to me like Saran Wrap. I slipped out of the cap and gown, patting my hair back into place, and began looking about for friends with whom to exchange some poignant last words. But most were only aquaintances. Why say good-by to people I never really knew? My father never said anything, but I believe, to this day, that he grasped my angst. I had been a shy girl who seemed to look at life through a window I could not open.
After meandering through the crowd with the occasional nod and smile, we left and (to this day, at age 67) I have never returned for a single class reunion. I always hoped that when I did return for one, I would be a rich and famous author or artist, wearing a chic designer dress, and possibly married to some VIP (a tangible sign that I had made the grade in spades as a woman as well as in all that brainy stuff). – It never happened.
What did happen is that I was soon forced to get over my shyness in the trench warfare of life when a person has to reach out to another person in hard times (for advice and comfort) and good times (to help celebrate them). I learned to work side-by-side with other people when the deadlines were tight and a mass lay-off was rumored.
We shared a drink or two at the “happy hour” and planned how to get ahead, or get out, or get even or get out of town before our creditors nabbed us. It was real life going on while we were waiting for something better.
Wht I learned in that period broke the wall between myself and the great other. If I returned to a class reunion now, I would be able to engage with them in a way I could not in that earlier time. Do I dare do so without the classy props I once thought I needed? Are many of them thinking the same thing I am thinking? Would they remember me (or me them) and does it really matter?
I wonder if I would look into the eyes of old classmates who have also done their time on the rock (or under it) and find some profound and binding common cause with them that was never there before. We’ll see