It’s hard to sum up the past few days. It occurred to me to write some quick line like: “The reunion was amazing, I can’t say anymore.” or “No comment.” or “Two days later, I think I’m still hung over.” or even “Oh, it was simply lovely and we all had a really good time.” Each would be true. Each sums it up… but the sum of the equation is different depending on the variables you punch in. It was a warp speed ride through thirty years of memories, misconceptions, dead on perceptions, laughs, missed chances, and then some. Who says you can’t go home? I went home, and it was delicious. It was dizzying. It was bitter sweet. It brought closure and it opened new doors. It was nothing like I expected. As we say in Scituate: it was wicked good.
I have not been back to my home town often in the past 30 years and the past reunions I went to were very different for me. As I’ve posted previously, I went home with baggage before and I wasn’t sure how to break the ice and move forward, lighten the load. This time, I went in with some new perspectives, having broken that ice via Facebook in the months and weeks leading up to the reunion. I had old friends on board and new ones, that I looked forward to spending more time with. Early on, a friend and I agreed we’d spend the weekend together. She understood the insecurities and the stuff that I might struggle with and she just sent me a hug over the wires and said “I’ll have your back,” and she did. As it turned out, we morphed in to “Thelma and Louise” for the weekend and just decided to see where that ride would go. We had each other’s back, while we made the most of the fun.
The festivities the night before really helped make it all easier. Several of us arrived Saturday, ready to pick up where we’d left off Friday… laughing and bypassing any bullshit. I was presented with a bag of Doritos right off by said comrades, an old joke with a new spin. Old joke: My boyfriend in high school asked me not to eat Doritos while we dated. Being a silly, young girl at the time who hadn’t thought to say “F that” I stayed away from them for the three years we dated. New spin: They also figured prominently in the Friday night party, so it was a very sweet gesture to bring me a bag at the reunion… there were a few people who were happy to share them, once the drinks were flowing… um, which was pretty much all night and then some. There was some humorous debate about what year Nacho Cheese Doritos (the offending flavor) came out. One class mate insisted that they came out during our high school years, but I’ve since learned that this fact was way off. The idea that we could claim Doritos as part of our high school milieu was a sweet notion while it lasted, but alas.
One of our classmates lives in Japan and plays in a band there. In addition to him, two of his bandmates flew over, 2 other classmates who still live here jumped on board and they rocked our socks off. How many other class reunions can say they had a band fly in from Japan to play? Cool quotient went way up. In between sets, I had put together a lengthy iPod playlist of songs from our entire four years and then in to 1985 (when many of us graduated from college) because so many of us preferred to think that the early 80s was “our music.” Can’t say that anyone really heard the iPod set, as we were a tight pod anchored to the bar. It’s just part of our scene… it’s a crowd that parties hard and loud, when we party. It was like we were all 18 again, only legal, and no one was missing a minute of the buzz. Rock Lobster, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Michael Jackson, the Cure… not as compelling. I’ll keep the playlist for the next party.
The initial happy squeals of “oh my god! You look great!” (would you say any different and risk hearing less about yourself?) gradually became the sound of old friends filling in the blanks and making new connections. I for one, talked with so many classmates that I spent hardly any time with in high school, and made some new friends. It was all fresh, with the misty glow of the past adding a little fairy dust to every interaction. If we hadn’t been friends then, we still made it through the same trenches then to come out at the Radisson in Plymouth, MA now. We are tied by that, if nothing else.
What I really learned this weekend, was that I grew up in a very unique and special place. I always knew it was beautiful and my memories are very strong. However, I never really realized that I share that with the entire Scituate high, class of ’81, alumni. So many others were sharing the same strong ties, the same colorful imagery and deeply rooted memories. We all were powerfully impacted by the place we shared for those years, whether we stayed there or have moved to other places. I know that reunions bring out this kind of stuff, but this was different. Really.
It really hit me this weekend just how special the SOUTH shore of Boston is. The beautifully weathered Cape Cod houses and dense woods; the stunning green marshes with their brackish water and changing hues; the twisting roads and old stone walls; the rocky shore and picturesque light houses; the fishing boats coming in and going back out, unloading their catch at the pier; the bars and shops; the rich history (there are few places in the US where you will find a house that is 300 years old)… all of this sparkles to me now and I realize that it was all being burned in my heart then. I left it, but it didn’t leave me. This weekend, I shared that with 100 other people who all feel the same way. We were all molded by the place and that adds to our connection.
There was the wild partying… I payed dearly for staying up until 4 AM and thinking I was still 18. For that record you all know I keep: I can still take off my heels and climb a truck. Didn’t quite sail the boat, but it was amusing for while. No further comment. It felt a little less fun Sunday morning… ok, all day Sunday. Ok, and part of Monday. From the Facebook posts, I wasn’t alone. While I laid low much of Sunday, I was with friends again by nightfall and rallied with a lobstah roll and fried clams. Older but not dead yet. I sat with wonderful new friends in the hahbah (harbor) and recounted tales from the night before. We laughed at the way some things just don’t change and lots of other things do. We laughed that 4 of us wouldn’t have been out together 30 years ago, but were glad to be doing it now.
Today, I drove back downtown. I had another fried clam plate (you can’t eat enough, when it comes this, but I may need clam detox later) and Thelma and I sat by the brilliant blue water and talked about it all. We took pictures of the boats coming in and going out. We took pictures of the lighthouse. We took a picture together, with our past in the background. We hugged and said goodbye for now. I drove on to the beach to see where I had played so long ago. It looked just the same, unlike so many other things that have changed in town. Maybe Elephant rock and ’76 rock aren’t quite as big as I remembered, but all the essential things are still there.
On a whim, I stopped by my grandmother’s old house, where I had lived for a while and where I felt the happiest as a kid. Almost didn’t do it, but my car made a sudden turn and there I was at the door. The new owner, a woman who graduated one year ahead of me, welcomed me in and warmly showed me the entire house. Much had been changed, but the same bones were there. The family’s 10 year old daughter showed me my old room, her’s now, that I had when I was exactly her age. Despite the new paint job, it still echoed with my brother and sisters’s voices. I could still see where my Barbies had been kept and where the attic stairs still live. The trees in the yard were bigger, but still there and my grandmother’s Japanese Maple is beautiful. She died of Huntington’s disease 12 years ago, but the house she designed and built still holds all that she brought to it. I am so grateful for whimsy.
As I drove down through Cohasset, ignored the navigation (urging me to take a different route) and took the short cuts I still remember by heart, through Hingham and on to route 3 N, I finally felt that lump and found myself teary. (You had to see that coming!) As if on cue, the skies opened up and it poured. Thunder and lightening came as I felt myself leaving my home again… This time, a lot lighter and knowing I’ll be back.
NOTE: I got permission to post Thelma’s picture. I can not post photos from the reunion. What happens in Scituate, or Plymouth, stays in Scituate… suffice it to say, we all looked fantastic! Also, note the incredible sun on one side and dark thunderstorm on the other in the final picture, it was pretty damned amazing and pretty much mirrored just how I was feeling! If you enjoyed this post, read “Friend Me“, the lead up to the reunion. If you you like it, please hit the “Like” button below and/or “Share” it with a friend.