My high school class is having a reunion in the fall. Earlier this week, the organizer posted a list of people (on Facebook) that he’s trying to locate.
I look at the list and am surprised to read some names without the faintest glimmer of recognition.
“Jennifer Smith?! I don’t remember her at all.” I say to Andrea.
“She probably sat right next to you at graduation.” Andrea says.
“Hm.” I reply. Still nothing.
Other names, I recognize and think, “Oh yeah…”.
I ask my friend Heather if she recalls a classmate named Bruce, she doesn’t. This makes me feel somewhat better. Heather remembers everyone, well, at least I thought she did. Bruce is long forgotten and Heather admits she can’t place another girl who I’m surprised to remember.
I once worked for a Ph.D. Who was someone of an expert on the human brain. He told me that human beings are supposed to forget things. I guess to make room.
“A lot’s happened in 30 years.” I type to Heather in FB Messenger, as my way of dismissing the fact I have no recollection of some of these people and am surprised to realize that I have not thought of others in 30 years.
Out of desperation, I lug my yearbooks from the basement. Kathleen Smith is pictured between myself and Jennifer Smith. I stare at Jennifer’s picture. Nope. Nothing.
Sometimes I tell myself I lived a lot of lives. Or maybe it’s the one life with a whole lot of chapters. Maybe that’s the way it is for everyone. We cannot possibly remember the details of every chapter.
I’m sure some people have seen me comment on the reunion post and have thought, “Maggie Smith…who the hell is that? I don’t remember her.” Maybe the stare at my yearbook picture, shrug and slam the yearbook shut.
“If people aren’t going to attend, they should at least submit a short essay detailing the past 30 years.” I say to Heather.
I want it all though, not some sugar washed version of the past 30 years. I’m greedy - tell me about the highs but also the times your heart would break. No one lives 30 years unscathed. There are dark chapters.
Today someone comments that one of the people that can’t be located passed away. For a moment, I think this is new news then realize I knew this but the persons formal name was used. It seems like we’ve lost more than our fair share of classmates. But I don’t know what the statistics are on these things. Maybe it’s normal even though it feels anything but normal. Sort of like how it feels abnormal that 30 years have passed since I graduated from high school.
Recently, someone posted a meme that said something like you’re now older than the parents of your friends that you thought looked haggard. Within the past year, both of Jeanette’s parents died. Her mom passed last July at the age of 70 which means she was only 40 when i graduated. Her dad passed in March at the age of 78. It seems simultaneously improbable and yet probable at the same time. It goes so fast, all of it, just like those haggard 30-somethings warned us it would all those years, that flew by, in the past.