If one lives long enough – a class reunion will enter one’s life or at least the opportunity to attend a gathering of classmates to remember when.
I recall the time Janis Joplin returned to Texas for her high school reunion in 1970. She had been treated badly at Pt. Arthur and no doubt believed now that she was a successful singer she would at last receive the affirmation she so wanted and needed. Wrong Janis. All she got from the class of 1960 was an award for traveling the farthest. It was their last rejection as she returned to the West Coast and died within a month. Class reunions can be deadly if deadly emotions manage to over take reality.
I avoided my class reunions in both Silsbee and Kountze for different reasons. I attended Silsbee for one year – my senior and I always felt like a reject – not married while everyone else showed off their wedding rings, stretch marks and baby photos. The 10th anniversary came and went without me. Kountze was a different kettle of fish.
I spent 11 years in Kountze school system – the county seat of Hardin County. My parents entrusted my education to the school system. 40 hours a week I sat in school rooms – learned what I could from often under paid, unappreciated educators. The problems which I encountered were rarely academic but the bullies which created an emotional mine field in my coming of age years was brutal, vile and devastating. By the time I graduated I had little self confidence as a female, low self esteem and an eagerness to flee.
I fled to the obvious choice – swinging London. Of course what I did not realize in my naive youth – I could never leave Kountze because Kountze was inside me – like a virus in a computer. The harm done could last a life time. The harassment, put downs and abuse followed me as if it was chiseled into my DNA. By the time I could adequately and fairly view the situation many years had passed and along with it many lost opportunities.
Therefore I had little interest in attending any reunion which may bring me in contact with the perps who came so close to destroying me. Finally in 2004 I attended my first class reunion. It was painless. The perps which created so many false images in my heart were not in attendance. I knew two would not be there as they had passed away.
The reunion was bitter sweet as an upper classmate was dying of cancer and he wanted to host the shindig at his new facility as he did not believe he would make it another year. He stood with the assistance of his wife and greeted the small gathering. Only six from my class attended. We visited and danced to music and promised to get together again before too long. The fall air reminded us of our own passage of time. Before we knew it a decade had passed and more of our classmates were gone. We knew there was far less time for the class of 1970 than had been.
A group of classmates which spanned a number of years decided to organize a shindig of all shindigs at the same location we had celebrated more than 10 years before.. A committee was formed and they went all out. Soon the reunion began to take a life of its own. We all realized how fragile life was and is. Many felt this would be the last time we would get together as the obit pages were getting more and more personal. I for one planned to go and wondered if any of the perps who had made my life so miserable would be on site?
The day arrived. Friends arrived from out of state. One of my classmates fretted as to what she should wear? I told her I did not care what I wore. I ended up wearing a gold knit sweater with a black knit pant suit. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the venue. The place was packed but via name tags I was able to “recognize” many classmates. I did not know some of the attendees who had graduated after I did . I did recognize three of the perps who were in attendance. We spoke – I took photos and the conversation ended. What did I feel? Nothing – except the reality they had robbed me and they had no right to do so. My youth had allocated too much importance to their horrid words. Did they apologize? No – and I don’t expect they will. I heard the chief perp mention his grandchildren. Grandchildren – something I lost out on. I wondered if the shoe had been on the other foot – would he have been the one alone and I would be the one with a family, a comfortable retirement? Wasted thinking. Life is what it is and for whatever reason it happened. Like a house of cards – the gig was up and the dye was cast. One bad thing lead to another. Bad people created an open door for more bad people to enter my life. Victims often attract predators and so was the case. Needy people are sitting ducks for wolves in sheep clothing. But back to the reunion.
The night went fine otherwise – visited with friends, met former teachers, took photos, ate too much, reconnected with classmates I had not seen in 40 years. The music was a variety of rock and roll and country. The facility was roomy, decorated to honor each class, each classmate who has passed away. The night air was chilly but a nice fire attracted a number of people who stood beside the flames, warmed their hands. The crowd began to leave. More hugs, more promises to stay in contact via social media.
A classmate provided home made wine to enjoy and take home and so the night ended on that note.
Photos of the reunion have filled the internet and everyone agrees it was a great party. It was not a time to rekindle old wounds but a time to realize as surely as God has spared us all to live to see another day – HIS GRACE is truly amazing and trusting HIM with all of our questions is truly the only way to be healed. I can not get the past back. I can however seek to use what happened to me to help others.