Friday, July 22, 2011

A Quarter of a Century Later....

The great Midwestern humorist Garrison Keillor sings a song about being someone who has "left" his hometown and moved away. His "Song of the Exiles" has always held a certain resonance with me.

Like Keillor, I grew up in a small town in the American Midwest. My "Lake Wobegon" was in Sun Prairie Wisconsin. And like many who grow up in small towns I viewed it as a place that you grow up in,  then leave, as quickly as you can.  And I did.  After High School I left.  I went away to college, then I  lived in Europe, in Asia and then Chicago, San Francisco and now here in London.

This weekend is the 25 Year reunion of my High School Graduating class.   No, I won't be going.  Not out of any sort of disdain or desire to be curmudgeonly.   It's a matter of time and distance. To travel from London to South Central Wisconsin for two days just isn't really all that practical. Also, I have never attended any of the previous reunions. The 5 and 10 year reunions seemed just plain silly, and I honestly don't recall where the 20th was or if there even was one.    Yet, the run up to this weekend's get together back in Wisconsin has been interesting. Mostly due to Facebook. It has enabled the organizers to track down and reach out to a fairly large number of alumni.

Which has been an odd experience...

Over the past few months, I have been contacted and even "friended" (to use Facebook lingo...) by people who I literally never have had a sustained conversation with in High School ...ever.  People who back then may as well have been total strangers, given how much interaction we had.  Yet now twenty five years on, there is an implied bond,  due to the commonality of where and more specifically, when we all graduated from High School. Consequently a verse from Keillor's song keeps floating back to me:

"What's their names I knew back when
Never liked each other that much then
But memory has been kind, and they weren't bad.
I'd like to see those folks again..."

It's safe to say that "back in the day" I was not someone who was in with the "cool kids".  My varsity letter (yes I have one) was in Extemporaneous Speech. (Yeah, I know... you actually can letter in that, who knew?)  So no,  I didn't fit in very well. My vocabulary and interests were not really typical,  and differed from most  of my classmates.  And for better or worse,   Sun Prairie  Wisconsin was not a place that smiled upon being  "different".   As a result, I was  never  going to be someone the student body of Sun Prairie High would consider "popular".

At the time in 1986,  I viewed Sun Prairie High School as something that was to be endured, survived and quickly left behind... far,  far behind. Yet looking back,  if I am honest, I will admit that I did enjoy High School. I had wonderful friends, and for the most part had great teachers. (Granted, one or two of them should have been hauled out and beaten with a stupidity stick, but overall,   Sun Prairie Public Schools did okay...)

So now in 2011 I find myself in the odd position of feeling nostalgic, not just for the experience and the time in my life, but for the people as well. Even for those  for whom it can be said we were definitely not friends. But that is the beauty of the passage of time.   Memory is kind, and none of us are who we were at age 17 or 18.

So the people who will gather together at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin are folks  I do not know.  But  honestly wish I could meet  them .   We have in common a significant period of time in our lives that though, long past, played a huge role in making us all the people we are today.

So  to the SPHS Class of '86,  I  raise a glass on the other side of the world, and wish you well, and.... yes,  I  wish I was there,  to see who it is we all  have become.

Go Cardinals...


June said...

Funny, odd thing, isn't it?
I pretty much spent most of my adult life in Sun Prairie and when I attended the class icebreaker last night there were more people I didn't know or recognize.

And for the record, the new generation of kids totally accept the weird, geeky, nerdy kids. I know because my 16 year old is one of them. You two would have been friends most likely.

Sounds like you are doing well.
I wonder if any of our other classmates blog? I never found any.

Best to you.
Carol Chase
(remember, I used to pick on you, real bitch is what you will recall ;)
aka Juney@3! A Charm

Dave said...

It is funny Carol, maybe memory fails after 25 years but I honestly don't recall you ever being a "bitch", I remember you as having a wonderfully distinctive laugh though.

Thanks for the comment!


conalee said...

Dear David,
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments here tonight. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I'm feeling this evening!
Connie (old locker neighbor)
p.s. What an exciting life you've been living with all that traveling!!!!!

Denise said...

Loved reading the article you wrote. So true. Some people I saw on facebook I thought "who the heck is that?". I honestly do not remember many of our classmates either, only the ones I chose to keep in touch with. Life goes so fast, yet I feel like I am still a kid in some way. Some of us never grow up...I wont name any names here...the pictures of classmates from the past brought up so many memories for me. It has been enjoyable.
Denise (zimmermann) Packel

The Blonde JD said...

Dave - So well said! Like you, I've lived all over the world as far away from SP as possible, and couldn't imagine why I would ever bother with a reunion. All I can say now is I'm SO glad an old friend convinced me to go ... Yes, we have ALL changed, but how many other people knew us "when"? It was thoughtful of you to check in and give us a glimpse of who you are now.
Kate (Sensenbrenner) Ladd

The Blonde JD said...

Well said, Dave! We missed you ...
Kate (Sensenbrenner) Ladd