}

Thursday, August 31, 2017

That old gang of mine

Odds are that most of us will make it to or near a reasonably old age. Statistically speaking, each year we attain makes the odds we’ll get older better—until we get old enough that the odds of us not ageing anymore begins to increase with each passing year. And because, on average, we’re likely to live for quite awhile, we’ll also witness a lot of changes in ourselves and others. Sometimes, that can be somewhat jarring.

Recently, my high school class celebrated its 40th Reunion, held several months after the actual anniversary of our graduation, as is fairly common, I gather. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t go, but because I’m Facebook Friends with several of my classmates, and am part of our class’ Facebook Group, I saw a lot of photos from the event and it was—enlightening.

There comes a point in our adulthood where we suddenly realise we’ve become our parents. We don’t always mean that we literally act/look like they were at our age, but that we are similar to the folks who were the parents when we were younger (although sometimes it IS literal…). We have entered a new stage of life.

Looking at the photos, I realised we’re becoming our grandparents. In fact, several of my classmates really are grandparents, but the point here is that many of us are starting to look like many of our grandparents did that June day in 1977. This will be even more obvious in another ten years, when we hit our 50th anniversary.

I’ve written several times [see all posts tagged “Ageing”] about dealing with the “ravages of age”. Some of those posts were serious, at least in part, but many were coming from a sort of lighthearted resignation to the fact of ageing, even if sometimes I was trying to make the process not quite so obvious. As I often say, I feel younger than I actually am, and I want to make my outer appearance a better match for what I feel—or, at least, to not look older than I really am.

There’s one revelation more that’s come from all this: Many of my classmates I’m friends with on Facebook turned out to be really great people—interesting, funny, smart, engaged. I sometimes joke (to myself) that if I’d known how cool they were going to be, I’d have spent more time with them in high school. The real truth, however, is that I’m ordinarily a shy person, always have been, and in high school maybe even more so. I had a small circle of friends, including only a couple close friends (who I’m still friends with to this day). So, the fact that back in high school I wasn’t active friends with the classmates who are now Facebook Friends has nothing to do with them, but with me at 18 or whatever. I don’t think it could have been any different.

While I may joke about how we’re becoming our grandparents, the truth is that I really like those people (and picked up some more Facebook Friends as a result of us trading comments and stories at the time of the reunion). This was the most unexpected thing of all.

When I left high school, I really expected that to be it. I went away to university, then moved away from my hometown after that. While I visited family in the area, I never got together with folks from high school or attended any reunions. In fact, there were years in which the idea of going to a reunion was laughable to me—why on earth would I want to do that? Time changes everything, and I’ve found that as I get older I’m increasingly interested in reconnecting with people who were important in my life (and also people who would have been if only I'd known them better back then). 20 years ago, I couldn’t imagine that every happening, but slowly it did.

So, the fact my class had a 40th Reunion, while a little surreal (how on earth could it be forty years?!!!), was a fun thing to experience, even from this far away. I’ve re-made friends, you could say, and been surprised by how great they are as people. Some of us are better preserved than others (I always feel I’m in the “less well preserved” category), but some of our classmates are not only extremely well preserved, some look better now than when they were teenagers. Those, of course, are the classmates I now despise (yes, I’m joking—mostly).

This is just another example of what I’ve tried to make my life about: Growing, changing, and moving forward. Ever forward, onward always, as we once sang together. And we all still know the words. Maybe ageing isn’t so bad after all.

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