Every five years we meet, the BY High Class of 1957.
Lots of us show up - increasingly flabby, wrinkled, white of hair, and wise. Well, I have been white of hair since college, except for a decade or two of using Lady Clairol.
But, wise. Thatís what interests me. Remarkable what growing up can do for you. Every five years there comes that touchstone, that little opportunity to visit the past and observe my growth, sort of like marking the height of my grandchildren on the heavy pantry door downstairs.
I think Iíve made all but one of those five-year reunions. And I think it was at the third one that I noticed for certain - we were all grown up. At least, I was.
I was now tall enough to reach the markers called "compassion" and "forgiveness." I looked at everyone with brand new eyes.
There had been a few deaths already in our group, a few divorces, children born with handicaps, professional disappointments, financial difficulties. "Popular" kids were struggling and those who had been in the shade were beginning to shine.
I looked around and felt instant forgiveness for everyone for every high school sin, every slight, real or imagined.
More importantly, I felt compassion and forgiveness for myself. For being human. For having been adolescent. For having been academically precocious and socially inept. For having been in such dramatic and embarrassing pain over the bumps of high school life.
By then - that third reunion - I knew what pain really was. I was in the midst of a soul-shattering event, my own crumbling marriage. And I had given up judgment of anyone, including myself.
It was liberating to hug my old classmates without their past and without mine, looking at us all through the miracle of Now, just a bunch of blessed, silly, divine beings, slogging through Life, doing the best we can.
In 2007 weíll meet for our fiftieth. Sigh. Still growing. Canít wait.