Reunions are a funny thing. They can bring out the best and the worst in people, often simultaneously. My 30th high school reunion is next weekend, and I am looking forward to more of the best than the worst. I went to my 20th, still thinking I had something to prove – to whom I’m not really sure. The beauty of my 30th will be the fact that I just couldn’t give a shit anymore. We all grow and evolve on our own terms. It took crossing over the “40” age line before I realized I was just fine the way I was, physically, mentally and spiritually. After that, things just sort of fell into place. Too bad we can’t take that feeling of self-satisfaction and go back to that awkward time known as the “teenage years” and spend some time reassuring and coaching ourselves through all that anxiety and self-doubt. We were all just fine back then. We just weren’t able to see it. At the advanced age of 48 ½ (give or take a month) I am actually pretty happy in my own skin and that’s a really incredible feeling. I hope my classmates and friends have managed to find their “happy place” as well. The ones that I am close to I pretty much adore just the way they are. They’ve grown into amazing individuals, each with their own story, complete with moments of absolute celebration and tragedy. It’s those moments that make us who we are.
There is a common thread that weaves us all together into a really beautiful fabric. We all hail from a small town in Pennsylvania, and from my perspective and the observations of others, I think we all cherish and treasure that commonality. We are special. We cling to a way of life that allowed us all to enjoy that “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle growing up, dotted with memories of memorial days parades, Friday night football games, the annual carnivals, and an extreme sense of belonging to something very very good. Life was simple. Life was splendid. I know I personally didn’t appreciate that when I was 18 years old and so full of myself, but now…now it has become very precious to me. Maybe that is what has drawn me to live in another small town, much further south, but with a lot of the same values and sense of community. They do say things like “y’all” a lot down here, and even this Yankee girl catches herself using such southern phrases, but the reality is Manassas, Virginia shares more with Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania than I ever thought it would. I find it completely heartwarming that so many of my former classmates who left our town after graduation are now back in Tunkhannock, and raising their own families there. It’s a great life. I just couldn’t handle those cold Pennsylvania winters anymore.
I’ve also been lucky enough to find a partner and best friend (it only took me three tries, mostly because I’m a slow learner) who shares that same affection for small town life. Indeed, he has lived and worked within five miles of the house we currently live in (where he actually grew up) his entire life. I love that stability and solidness about him. I’ve been anything but grounded over the past three decades, especially the earlier two. He keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground while allowing me to at least exercise the option to still be myself, and all that comes with that – most of it a bit on the “quirky” side.
It’s good to remember where you came from. It will help you walk the path to where you are going. I, for one, am thankful for Tunkhannock, and all those that remain there. Next Saturday is going to be special, and that makes me smile.
Looking forward to seeing all of you from the Tunkhannock Class of 1983. Cheers!