June 11, 2007

Pink feather boas everywhere!

Three nights, 18 hours of sleep. Was it worth it? After all the angst and agita, YES!

We threw one kick-ass reunion -- the best ever (Alice says modestly). My reunion co-chairs and I each played to our strength -- mine, writing/editing, taste-testing caterers, and commandeering on-campus transport; my two friends gathered great swag, put together astounding evenings of dinner and dancing, exquisitely timed our music, drinks, and overall partying. It was a year's work, some of it seemingly without thanks until the Saturday evening toasts, but the payoff was grand. Our class, as they say, rocked.

The class of 1982 paraded behind a banner complete with hot pink sequins, black studded leather, pink mylar fringe, and all manner of textured exotic print fabrics. We wore our hats, our T-shirts, our pink feather boas, our temporary tattoos. No one looked better or more festive than we did.

Twenty-five years down the road, and we're still here -- mostly better, kinder, and happier than when we were handed our diplomas. No one acted awkward, even after encountering blush-making acquaintanceships from decades ago. A few, sadly, had grown affected: one in particular had acquired a British accent within the past 10 years, while every other American who lived in London spoke in tones I recognized, even our class's most (in)famous representative.

It was wonderful to connect with people I didn't know in college, to exchange confidences, wish we had known one another sooner. What artifice we once hid behind has disappeared, and I spent time with people who were far more real, thoughtful, and substantive than I could have imagined (or been) 25 years ago. We danced to the same music, less inhibited (if that is possible) than we were at a younger age. I am exceedingly grateful to have the opportunity to know these people, to share my life story with those I would be proud to call my friends.

A good time was had by all and then some. Not until yesterday morning did my body announce its age: too much dancing, too little sleep, too much to drink, many intense conversations of a length we rarely have the luxury to indulge -- none of us knows how we managed four years of it; after two nights, we were exhausted. When recapturing our youth, chronological age didn't stand a chance, except to catch us unaware when we awoke on Sunday.

Eight of us sat on a blanket in the quad where we once sunbathed on Friday night, watching fireworks from afar, confessing various exploits: one friend reminisced about how she had to rearrange her class schedule so that she didn't take classes from the professor with whom she was having an affair; another classmate recalled having sex in a phone booth in the center of town.

Swilling wine from a bottle, we agreed that what was said on that blanket will stay on that blanket. Though everyone conceded I won the prize for outrageousness: when I was 36, I slept with a woman half my age -- in a dorm on campus.

The Croquet Player and I had the rendez-vous I had anticipated, and he seemed not to mind wearing my lipstick kiss for a day. We did realize one difference between our college years and present day: two people of a certain age cannot sleep well on a single bed, particularly one whose mattress is charitably described as "hospital quality."

We were together the night before the reunion officially began -- given how the dormitory hallways echo, our timing was perfect. Yes, we regressed, but not completely. After 27 years we know everything about each other, and time will never erase that. Yes, he kept trying to shut me up in public, but I borrowed his cell phone overnight to tease and confuse him, returning it in exchange for favors I have yet to call in.

I was reminded that my ability to write is a gift that I need to use, and the stories I have to tell have a place not only on the blog but perhaps also in print for the world to see. I need to write a memoir of my family, revisit and reclaim the past so I can move beyond it. Thus far, I have the opening line:

"On the beach in Haiti during my senior year in high school, my rolling papers disappeared Christmas eve. I realized my father had appropriated them, but little did I know the harbinger that represented."

The campus set off alarms from decades past in my brain: I have not had a migraine so excruciating in more years than I can remember. (In college, I would awaken in the middle of the night, screaming in pain, then medicate myself and pace the halls, crying with pain. I was not every one's favorite neighbor.) Still and again, that seems to be the price I pay, not while I am anxious and stressed beforehand, but Saturday night, after dinner and dancing, when I had the chance to relax, when I realized how successful the reunion felt.

Then, it was too much for my synapses. Those neurotransmitters that had been most cooperative beforehand chose a moment to snap, and several rounds of narcotics were needed to restore my equilibrium.

Now I have returned to Wonderland, with a camera documenting my weekend, and new, happy and astonishing memories to carry with me. "Only connect," E.M. Forster wrote. That we did, with a flourish and pink feathers everywhere.

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Blogger The Misanthrope said...

You truly do have a gift for writing, which is painfully obvious to someone like me.

Your reunion sounds great, I would have liked to have been your class, but I am afraid I would have never been accepted into your group. I was far too dimwitted.

1:28 PM  

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