On the eve of a reunion, over twenty five years in the making it seems like yesterday. I see the pictures of old friends hanging out and see them as I remember them back in the late eighties. The time that has passed reflects in their faces. Taking a look closer, again I see them as I did then. Eighties hair and clothes to be exact.
Memories are solid in pictures each is relative to their own scripts that accompany the time, place, who, what, where and when. The who being the operative word. You look at each person in a reunion photo, in this particular case, remembering different things about different people pictured that you had a connection or close relationship with.
You start with a sadness of having lost touch with them, but when you let that part of it go. You get a flood of the good memories and times you had. We talked on the phone several times a day, now that just dates us right there. We had to make a call with a cord when we were back at our dorms or apartments. If we were not together we were in class or working. We did everything together. We became each others family. We drove across country together. Lived in Los Angeles together. We lived in a European castle together. We experienced Crossroads together (shout out to my Emerson folks).
When I watched my nephew graduate this spring I saw who his life long friends would be. They had become that reunion family to him over these four years he grew up. It was obvious as they walked in their caps and gowns as housemates, brothers and friends that they had come to this moment together in a way we will never have the full picture of. We do not need to. It is not ours.
It occurred to me sitting in the row with my mom, and my brother at graduation, with my sister in-law and her mom in front of us with my other nephew. The older brother graduating again that month as well with his masters now headed back to Geneva to start his career. I felt this same feeling at my own brothers graduation. My brother still is friends with his college roommate and has kept up with friends over the years much better I do.
The one thing I do well is old pictures as I am known as the Aunt who is still riding around in her car with photos chosen for each of my nephews high school yearbook ads. One could not be proud of this I guess, but then they would not be me.
When my nephew Tucker, pulled out his second present that day at dinner. The first, being the second of our fathers handkerchiefs given to his brother the preceding year for his undergraduate graduation. It was a four picture collage of us fishing on the Little Lake. You could tell it took him a minute to flip through his own life’s Rolodex (does that phrase still apply, or just date me again) to put the image to the memory. He has not seen those photos in over a decade and half. Finally he said, “I remember that day, fishing at Grandma’s.”
The table erupted with their own memory of that day and laughter over other photos from my car scattered in the gift bag. Here we were at a table, all of us, and maybe it will only be a memory as an image, maybe a story told in years to come. He will have his younger family ones and his new ones with his own family.
Brad Paisley told the crowd at SPAC the other night, you might think it’s high school at seventeen. But I do agree that college is one of the best times of your life, for the mere fact that what you know of as your family to that point changes over time.
I look at reunion photos and know I could call any of them at any time. Life is busy. However, those years and those bonds are suspended in time. Congratulations to all the graduates out there this year. You and your parents know what I am talking about.
Enjoy, seventeen, twenty something and take in all the memories that will carry you the rest of your life. Buckle up and remember to write a few on paper, print a few out and create a time capsule. You could keep it at your moms or in your car, either way they are yours. You will need them at various times to remember how far you have come. You did it. Over, Under and Through give yourself credit and take in this moment.