The year that we just got through, 2019, was the fiftieth anniversary of a bunch of things. In 1969, men walked on the moon, Woodstock happened in a bigger way than anyone imagined it would, the first troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, the Stonewall Riot occurred, Sesame Street premiered, and a lot of other pretty remarkable things happened. And, by the way, I graduated from high school.
I sometimes think getting old is the price you pay for not dying, and while it’s not really punishment, there are days that feel like it. When I went to my fifty-year high school reunion in the early autumn of 2019, I found a lot of old people there. Not me, of course, I’m not so very old, or maybe….
My graduating class was just under 200 people. Some of them are dead, some didn’t come. Some people I wouldn’t have known without their name tags, some looked nearly the same. In all, it was a slightly frustrating experience because you can’t really summarize fifty years of life lived in a few minutes. I haven’t stayed in touch with any of my fellow graduates, so there would have been a lot of ground to cover if I’d tried to reacquaint myself with everyone. Still, it was interesting.
I grew up in a smallish town and went from kindergarten through high school with many of the same folks. At the ten year reunion, I saw little kids running around and knew exactly who their parents were because they were the spitting image of their parents at the same age. It was eerie.
This will probably be the last reunion for my class, but I’m glad I went. I’ve always thought my greatest accomplishment was escaping the small town I grew up in, but it was nice to go back and revisit the place. There is nothing to go back to now except my father’s grave. I have no friends or family there. Still, it’s where I’m from, and it gave me a lot of the foundation for who I am. But more than the place I’m from, my family gave me myself. I was reminded of this when, after the reunion, I went to visit my father’s last living sibling, my Aunt Virginia, and many of her children and some of her grandchildren. It was good to be reminded where so much of my personality was formed–my cousins have the same sense of humor as my dad. They get my jokes.
So this autumn, I got to revisit my roots. Now, going into 2020, I’ll have the opportunity to grow and change and experiment and, now and then, even go back and remember who I am and where I came from.
Image: Bittersweet, squash and pumpkins at the Chillicothe Kid’s Day Parade. By Marilyn Evans.