Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reclusive and reluctant: Skipping the reunion

     I did not attend my high school class' 50-year reunion last weekend.
     Considering how much that class, that group of people, and that school meant to me -- as I said in a blog piece last week -- my absence might surprise my regular readers ... as it surprised the Woodlawn people who knew me over the years.
     Or thought they knew me. I tried to hint at it in that blog -- reunions and sports banquets are off my agenda ... for now. I have passed on a half dozen in the past couple of years.
     Why? It's complicated, and I will try to explain. But I am not apologizing, nor -- and I stress this -- am I asking for sympathy or attention. Please, please, do not post "you were missed" or any other such message in reply to this.
      Don't need it, don't want it.
      Which partly is the reason I didn't go to the reunion: I didn't need it. Can't say I didn't want it because so many of the Woodlawn students, teachers and supporters are still good friends; some are great friends. Loved them then, love them now.

      Maybe I love them too much. Maybe I'm too sentimental or emotional about those times.
      There are lots of reasons I didn't go, and some -- most -- are personal. Don't want to get into all of that. I want to be clear on this, though: It has very little to do with the many, many good people of my past.
       Sports banquets are out because (1) I went to so many early in my sportswriting days that I've done my time and (2) they take too darned long.
       Reunions are not for everyone; some people feel out of place, or uncomfortable. And that discomfort is how I felt after the past couple of reunions.
       Had nothing to do with the reunion organizers. Every time I've been to a Woodlawn reunion, they have been well-organized -- it's not easy -- and I heard and read that the one this past Friday-Saturday was the best our Class of '65 has had.
      If I remember correctly, I was on the organizing committee for our first reunion, in 1975, and helped some on the 1985 reunion. Skipped one or two -- lived too far away or the timing wasn't right -- but in 2001, I was an organizer of the 1960s Woodlawn Football Reunion ... and that was a grand couple of nights.
       I wanted to attend those reunions. But the thrill of it mostly has gone for me, 50 years after graduation. That's not my world now. 
       (Nor have I gone back for The Shreveport Times' Oldtimers luncheons or any Louisiana Sports Writers Association/Hall of Fame activities, and I've been invited.)
       A year or two ago I told one Woodlawn friend that I was cutting back on reunions; I don't think he believed me. Another friend, telling me about a reunion in Bossier City a few weeks ago, said I would have enjoyed it and said someone said I would have been there "if it was a Woodlawn thing."
      Not so.
      Don't have the want-to. People know I like talking about the past and, certainly, if you've seen the blog pieces, I like writing about them. From the feedback I receive, the nostalgic pieces are popular.
       But we don't like traveling as much any more, unless there are grandkids at the destination. Don't like driving much any more, not even in town and not at night. And this would have been an eight-hour round trip by myself because Bea wasn't interested.
       I made that trip to Shreveport-Bossier by myself in April to speak at the Holocaust Remembrance Service because Bea, who wanted to go, couldn't then.
      We have plenty of trips to Shreveport-Bossier we'll need to make in the next several years as older friends -- some friends of my parents -- leave us. So I felt that to make this trip was frivolous.
       But on the reunions ... here is perhaps the main reason I found it tough to go this time: I come away from them feeling so sentimental, it's almost a sad or depressed feeling.
       I can't explain it. I know people think I'm kind of crazy anyway and unpredictable, but I said 30 years ago in a column before the 1985 event that the reunions leave me with a bittersweet feeling. Sweet to see those people again; bitter because it's only a few minutes here and there; it seems superficial and fleeting to me.
      I know that I came away from the reunions, and it didn't feel great.
      So I ask, do other people feel that way? Or am I an exception here? Am I turning into a recluse? Do I need a mental exam about this? (Don't answer that. I know I need that about other matters.)
       I'm not a recluse; still enjoy being around people. I see friends from the past in one-on-one meetings or in a small group. Do it quite often for lunch or, unfortunately, at recent funerals.
       I have a pretty good memory of events and individuals, and I don't mind spending a short time rehashing the old days. But -- and I have written this several times -- I don't want to live in the past; I'm much more about today.
      Some of my past I'd be happy to forget. But I relish a lot of it; I just don't want stay there, re-tell it or hear it retold for very long. The stories are too old.
      I have enjoyed seeing the pictures from this reunion, but even then at times it made me feel a little down when I look at how much some people have aged or changed. With others, it's remarkable how little they've changed ... and that's great. I have changed physically and mentally, but I'm OK with that. I'm at a good time in life.
      I fought hard with myself about this reunion; I'm still fighting as I write this. My heart said go; my head, remembering the depressive aftermath, said no.

      I gave it a heartfelt effort in my blog about the Class of '65 last week. I don't need face-to-face time with people to stay connected; I don't share everything in my life, but I am out there a lot on my blog, Facebook and by e-mail.
      Saw where one person on Facebook commented, " ... Our time at Woodlawn was very special. Can we go back?"
       No, we can't go back, except for one weekend every five years (or more if you are invited and choose to attend other classes' reunions). So the "Once a Knight, Always a Knight" sentiment remains, always, but this year those nights weren't right for this Knight.  


  1. From Patrick Locke Sr.: Well said. I'm not a reunion guy either. I still like to hear about former classmates and their children, etc., but the gap is too wide in terms of life experiences.

  2. From Maxie Hays: I love reunions. Love seeing and visiting with old friends. I come away very happy because I choose to.

    1. Coach, I think most of my classmates who attended our reunion would agree with you. They were very happy with it -- and I'm glad.

  3. From David Henington: Interesting post. You are not alone. Lots of people don't participate. And there are so many newer ways to stay connected, such as Facebook. No one should participate in events they really don't enjoy. No explanation needed.

  4. From Ross Montelbano: Interesting point of view. I think that I go to make up for what I missed in high school. All those things that you experienced, I missed -- the proms, plays, parties, etc. If you think that you feel out of place, imagine it as a teenager. I don't blame anyone, I learned that self doubt needs no help from others. So now I go and try to speak to those that worked much harder at it than I did, like Mrs. Williams. Thanks for the articles, you haven't lost a thing.

  5. From Sandi Tison Atkinson: Well stated. Reunions are different for everyone. I had a great time, personally, but if you felt no need to go, then you made the right choice for yourself. There were a lot of Knights absent for any number of reasons. Your blogs keep all of us connected to you in a very special way.

  6. From Lynn Chance: I liked your blog and I can see how you feel, I feel that too! I will not say that I missed you, but I would have liked that face to face time after all of the years.

  7. From Linda Gail Todd: I enjoy reading your blogs and you are not an exception!

  8. From Beverly Ann Tozier Harlan: Nice blog. I know people who have never been to a class reunion. We had a few attending for the first time. I feel like it's a personal decision. My sons have never been to any of their reunions and I don't ask why.

  9. From Charlotte McDearmont Pennington: Regarding the reunion, I get it. Went through similar emotions. I think we are now able to make decisions that are best and the most comfortable for us. We are able to choose how much energy we want to spend and on what. I especially do not like to get out after dark. That would have never stopped me 10 years ago. I think you were spot on with several points.

  10. From Stan Horton: You`re right. Don`t want it, don`t need it, your blog.

  11. From Teddy Allen: Good effort. I get too sad. Don’t know if that’s good or bad.

  12. From O.K. "Buddy" Davis: ... On the reunions, you make some very good points. I will admit that there's some in our class (Ruston High '64) who have never made a reunion and others who practically live for the next one and can't wait.

  13. From William Lowe: Interesting blog article on being a no-show at the reunion. I don't come because I don't feel connected to anyone there and never did. It's a life theme that I repeat, like the poor sad man who lamented that he had married 13 infertile women. I was just trying to get along as I was passing through. Anyway ... you have a nice-looking family. As my mom would have said, "If they act as good as they look, they are all right."