I got a notice in my email yesterday for my fiftieth high school reunion. A lot of my class had stayed in Virginia and they have had a slew of reunions over the years. I’ve not made any of them.
But the fiftieth! Good lord, that’s a long time. My first impulse was to say, “How did I get so old?” But the truth is, I don’t feel old. The truth is, I know just how I got so old, and it’s been a great adventure. Four careers with more than my fair amount of success. One failed marriage. Poems. Art. Travels. Three kids. A second chance at love. Leaving home at 54 to start completely (and as it turned out, wonderfully) over. There has been love and betrayal and enough weirdness to fill a novel if I was prone to write surrealism. A slow evolution from a mountain man to someone who treasures empty beaches in the off-season. A shift in life from a Victorian sense of decoration to a Shaker sense of minimalism. From black and white art to raucous color. There have been years of the darkest depression and the slow journey back to myself. Constant recreation. Somehow, despite a life that would never have indicated it, I am a Methodist minister.
I have learned what love is and what love is not. I have learned that love. real love, is the most powerful thing in the world, all to rarely used. I have learned the value of silence and isolation, and how much is too much. I have learned I am pretty good at most anything I set my mind to, but it takes a while to get there. Failure is part of the process and if you don’t let it, failure is kind of freeing. I have learned to laugh, Lost the ability. Gained it back. I have learned my limits. I have learned to age, I hope, with a certain amount of grace.
I savor more. Some people, as they age, get a sense of urgency to finish things in their life. I know now it is never finished, and there is value in savoring things. A good meal. A good glass of bourbon. A good friend. Love. I know now that letting life soak in is a rich luxury. WHen I do, there will be no time for this and no one will care what I accomplished. But they will remember the time.
I have suffered loss as anyone my age has. Parents. Friends. Family. Covid was particularly painful. A marriage. Places and people and situations I loved. I have mourned a lot. And I have learned how there is always something else. Always. That’s part of the adventure.
And all that is the tip of the iceberg. Each line, each word of it has story after story. Yes, I think I know where those fifty years have gone. It has been time well spent, I think. So far.
I don’t know if I will go to the reunion or not. I haven’t ruled it out. I haven’t committed. I am not a small talk fan. And I have no idea of all those people I went to school with (My graduating class was big, over 500) would even care to share stories with depth to a stranger, which undoubtedly I would be.
But I am glad they are having it, this reunion. I am glad for the chance to reflect and be happy for my life, ups and downs and constant surprise. It’s a good thing to do on a Saturday morning.
Be well. Travel wisely,
PS – The picture is of my old high school, today.