Sally Field, Ladue High School Reunion, Barbara Streisand, Robert Redford, Popeye & Me
Posted July 11, 2010on:
It’s taken four decades, but I’ve finally pulled a Sally Field or two: “I like me. I really, really like me.” And, “I really like my classmates. I really, really do.”
As to whether they “really, really like me,” it doesn’t really matter. See paragraph one.
A year ago I had no intention of coming to my 40th Ladue High School reunion. Why, I thought, would I want to put myself through all that? All that, it turns out, was great fun and informative.
The people who I thought were this or that, were not so this or that. And those who I assumed thought I was this or that, apparently were too busy worrying that I thought they were this or that to think I was this or that. Or at least 40 years later, they were just interested in seeing that others were doing OK.
I learned a story from Katherine (who apparently is no longer Kathy) that she told about me Friday night. Keep in mind that I came from a school district with wealth, even if our family was not at the top of the Ladue socio-economic scale – nor the bottom.
Some of the girls tracked how often girls repeated their sweater-skirt outfits and looked with distain at those who did not meet their standards. I, apparently in rebellion, wore the same outfit five days in a row. On Friday of that week, I announced what I had done to the surprise of others. I was victorious, it seemed, because no one had noticed.
Kathy (then but Katherine now) said Saturday that her response was, “Well, who would notice? It was only a blue skirt and gray sweater.” Forty years later, she admired my guts and the point that I made.
In hearing the story from her Saturday in a friend’s hotel room before the structured event, the responses varied. One friend said, “That sounds just like you.” Another said, “I hope you at least washed it.” And my own response was, “Did I really do that?” I didn’t think I had that much courage. I’m proud to hear I did.
Most of all from this weekend, I learned we are 40 years older but still at some core the same people inside. We have a longing to be reconnected with this place and time that was once ours when we were young and seemingly unaffected by life’s challenges.
It was a world 40 years ago where even the best, brightest and most popular appeared from the outside to have easy, perfect lives. We had no idea then what was really going on inside our classmates’ hearts, minds and homes. They had no idea what was going on inside ours. I was quite surprised to learn about the struggles that many had within.
It makes me think of the Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford characters in “The Way We Were:”
Katie Morosky Gardner: Wouldn’t it be lovely if we were old? We’d have survived all this. Everything thing would be easy and uncomplicated; the way it was when we were young.
Hubbell Gardner: Katie, it was never uncomplicated.
And so it wasn’t. But at least now Popeye and I can both say, “I yam what I yam.”
I left my tenth, twentieth and thirtieth reunions unsure of why I had come and convinced there was no need to return again. This time, I look forward to the 50th reunion.
Thank you to the planning committee for your hard work in making this reunion possible. One said she was taking reservations for the 50th.
I especially liked the memorial candles and listing for the 25 or so classmates – about 5 percent of our class – who have died. I share the view of several others looking at the memorial who said, “My goal is to not be on that list at the 50th.”