Fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships. Yesterday as I made my way to Odessa for my 50th high school reunion, I wondered if Thomas Wolfe was right. He made the assertion that “You can’t go home again”. Was it going to seem awkward standing face-to-face with former classmates that I haven’t seen in 50 years? I was both eager and apprehensive. Strange isn’t it, one of the things I’ve most looked forward to for the past several months began to be a source of anxiety as I neared the city limits of Odessa.
I momentarily remembered the anxiety I experienced as I left the comfort of the single-teacher grade-school class room environment to negotiate the hallways and freedoms associate with having different instructors. It was an opportunity to broaden my perspective and make new friends, but with it came some level of anxiety. Would I fit in? Would I like my teachers? I don’t remember all the questions that loomed on the horizon of consciousness, but they evaporated almost immediately as I was drawn to a more enriched learning environment. The subsequent transition from junior high to high school was a piece of cake. It was the same kind of environment and it took place in the same school setting. They were good years.
Yet, fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships. On Thursday evening I thumbed through my 12th grade high school annual. I looked at the pictures of former classmates. I read the personalized written comments made by classmates at the end of the school year when the annual came out. We were a close knit group. We promised each other that things would never change. Regardless of what life brought our way, we were destined to remain friends and support one another through life. They were heart felt words. They were meaningful words. Yet fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships.
The reality is that as we emerged from the nest to explore the broader post-high school lure of living life, we were absorbed with new places, new opportunities, new friends and new responsibilities. Ours was a different world than the one we now experience. We didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t have Internet connectivity. We didn’t stay in touch.
Perhaps the test of real friendship is the ability to negotiate fifty years of silence and still find that the bond of friendship that drew us together initially continued like a magnet that irresistibility draw us back together. The experience was exhilarating.
I didn’t want yesterday to end and yet that was only a precursor for the activities planned for today and in the morning. I guess like Cinderella, as the clock signaled midnight, the group of folks with whom I was visiting determined sleep was in order and we opted to call it a day.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again to discover that fifty years of silence doesn’t eradicate the tie that binds.
All My Best!