Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Seeing Ghosts

A couple years ago I was hanging out with some girlfriends for Happy Hour when out of the blue it occurred to me what I could say at Thanksgiving when we had to go around the table and announce what we're thankful for: I am thankful that, other than a couple dear friends, I have never, ever run into anyone from my high school since I graduated.

It was such a brilliant absence in my life! I was delighted that I could be aware of it and celebrate it.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I started to receive invitations to my (gulp) 20th High School Reunion and found (gulp again) that I really wanted to go! Wha?!

The notes have been coming in by email for maybe two weeks now. And with them, names of people who used to be a part of my life--but who I'd nearly completely forgotten about--have been floating back into view for me. It was a little like confronting ghosts. A bunch of these kids I went to school with from kindergarten all the way through graduation. And nearly all of them I'd known since the fifth grade.

I think I had the impression that I could float free of that group of people, as if it were only circumstance that tied us together. But I can't float free, untethered to such a large part of my past.

At the end of the list of names being sent around is a smaller list, though not nearly small enough, of the classmates who have died since graduation. (Actually one of them died our senior year from alcohol poisoning.) I felt awash in grief as I read through those names - and again a day or two later when one more name from the "unknown whereabouts" was moved to the list of deceased. After all these years, I can still see their faces plain as day.

I don't know that I'll actually be able to attend the reunion: it's the Friday after Thanksgiving on the opposite coast from me. But I haven't yet ruled out the possibility.

In the meantime, it prompted me to get in touch with my best friend from high school (and Maid of Honor in my wedding almost fifteen years ago now). So parts of my soul are feeling restored.

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