Thursday, October 21, 2010

Revisiting the Reunion

Between summer and fall

There's still a buzzing in my brain. I feel suspended between two existences these last few days: the fun simplicity of my youth and the reality of my life as it has become. The reunion I attended this past weekend has left me in this wonderfully, weird place. Both levels are intertwined to create this beautiful paradoxical phenomenon.

It started with a huge step back: back to the places, face and voices of another lifetime. Getting off the train my father used every working day and hearing my name excitedly called by a beloved, forever friend, with that accent so dear to my heart. And still knowing the countenance; a few fine lines showing her journeys, but just as lovely as I remember.

Friendship-Today & Yesterday

Then, the rest of the gang emerged, warm, loving, happy. Young. Yes, grayer in the hair, crow's feet circling the eyes, but the gang it was. The peoply who represented every struggle, every tear, every laugh, every triumph of my adolescence were here in front of me. A brightness grabbed me and chased away any daily drudgeries.

It continued as I was welcomed to become part of a friend's home. The simplicity of sharing it was that we were young and carefree and could devote our energies almost exclusively to each other and the events of the weekend. Responsibilities were few, like being teenagers again. The multitude of plans was not routine either, yet, there was an easiness about the gathering, the conversation, the company. Despite having lived a generation apart, our love for each other had stopped in time 30 years ago. It was an indescribable feeling to be able to wrap myself in that love again.

At the formal reunion, it was fun and challenging to pull faces off the memory board and try to match them to the names and faces now before me. There were some that took no effort. Others are still bothering me, because I know I missed a vital connection to the past and fear that I've hurt feelings in forgetting. There were a few old flames there. A couple were just nice to see as friends, others that still made a few butterflies reanimate in my stomach. Unfortunately, the peripheral friends I'd hoped to see did not make it. That was the only truly sad part of the event.

The most tremendous part of the whole experience was the connection that occurred with people with whom I'd had no relationship in high school. There was a pleasant sense of finding friendship. Feeling able to approach and being approached by so many people as if we'd always been friends was like being brought to your own surprise party. I'd never had a clue about the whole thing.

Which brings me back to the intertwining of different aspects of my life: I was painfully shy with those with whom I didn't have to function, especially, in high school. The shyness made me needy which also hurt a lot of the relationships I did have. The twists and turns of my life have made me able to step out and create relationships with almost anyone I choose. While the day-to-day of dealing with people can drag me down at times-sometimes so much that I really dislike people and the daily grind- it gave me the ability to jump into this microcosm of my past life and create a new link to both the past and the present.

I enjoyed having the confidence to accept these offerings of friendship from those from whom I had never wanted friendship. Feeling the butterflies made me realize that my standards were formed by these (now) men, the standards which guided me to my one true love when he came along 14 years ago.

And my friends, my beautiful friends, have reminded me that I can still be young, I can still enjoy life and people. Without the shyness of my teen years hindering me, it is even easier to enjoy all of these things. Even if it's just for a visit, I can still go home.


Just a sample showing the process of developing a painting from a photograph. It's a photo Mike took while we were staying on the St. Lawrence Seaway several years ago. The glow of the sky offset by the deep shadows and silhouettes of the trees, make the color and texture of the lake pop. I'm struggling with some of the flow, but I'll be tackling it again this weekend. Will be keeping you posted as I move along on the painting.


  1. The painting under development is magnificent. What a gift to be able to do that! Loved the post-reunion essay--so many levels of depth so well-explored. And yes, it did feel like we were teenagers without responsibilities, and how great was THAT? I could do that again, maybe once a month, providing there was no homework involved (oh, yeah, teenagers DO have responsibilities ...).

  2. So glad to hear you had a fab time at your reunion. And how beautifully you shared your reminiscent look back with us. Thanks!

    Great painting -so was that taken in a light box?

  3. As to the light box question: yes and no. It's not a professionally designed lightbox. I have 2 "natural" lights, 1 tall and the other short. I place them above and below the front of the table, angled to avoid as much glare as possible. The table is "framed" by a white board that is draped with a white curtain sheer. So it is a homemade lightbox.

    Which of course, I never would have known how to design a lightbox without your help, so thank you!

    - Barb


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