Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Another Reunion. Sunday musings…6/12/2022

1 Gore. An unused parcel of land over which no one claims ownership. Apparently the word from which one of my college classmates last name is derived.

Could have some fun with this one in lighter times, eh?

2. Birthdays. We’ve entered the time of year I like to call “birthday season”. All three of my kids start turning older this weekend. Randy turned 30. 30! How the heck did THAT happen?!

Time flies, man. Time flies…

3. Reunion 1. Beth and I are “flying back” from my 40th College Reunion on Route 90. We had the silliest flight home from Williamstown you can imagine. A three hour drive to Boston in order to fly to Myrtle Beach for the privilege of a 3 1/2 hr. layover before heading home to Cleveland. Almost 12 hours via that route, so here I am, with Beth driving, once again typing to you at 75 MPH courtesy of the modern internet.

I mean, come on, who does anything but fly TO Myrtle Beach?

4. Reunion 2. Wow. I mean, just WOW! It’s been 40 years since I drove away from the Purple Valley in the family station wagon chockablock filled with 4 years of stuff cleared out from the last of my dorm rooms and carted back to Rhode Island for the last time. That was a weird trip; I think it was the only time I was alone in a car for that drive, ever. Pretty melancholy ride, to be honest. Quite a bit different from my first drop-off ride in the fall of 1978 when I was deposited in my freshman dorm room after a raucous family drive along the topsy turvy asphalt ribbon of Route 2, the Mohawk Trail, through Massachusetts.

Until this weekend that was the only time I’d been in a car on that particular drive. Beth and I were routed that way from Boston via the map app as we headed back to Williams College for my 40th college reunion. Talk about time flying. Whoa. 40 years. 44 years give or take a few months since that first drop-off. Ditto for the orientation week known as “Freshman Days” back then (though probably no longer because, well, freshMEN), the week when I first met my classmates. I’ve written about this phenomenon before. Even in a school as tiny as the Williams of that time I really had no contact with at least 50% of my class from that early week until various reunions to come.

That was, once more, one of the themes of this reunion. “Hi, I’m Darrell. How the heck did we not know each other in school?!”. This year’s version was almost exclusively men I’d not known; past years almost exclusively women whose friendships I’d missed out on for whatever reason. Despite the lovely protestations from everyone over the years I still think these missed opportunities, and the responsibilty for the misses, is probably on me. I still think I was overly interested in myself back then. But this year brought a balancing note to those missed opportunities because a couple of people I DID know in those younger days came to this year’s festivities for the first time, or the first time in decades. What a treat to see Brenda M. and Jennie V. after so many years.

I could have spent hours with them both!

The second recurring theme this weekend was retirement. It’s a natural; we’re all in our 60’s after all. I expected to hear that most of my classmates were already retired. So many have been so very successful that it only seemed natural. Frankly I was looking forward to tapping into their experiences as Beth and I begin to plot our eventual glide path toward our retirement landing. To my surprise almost everyone (with the notable exception of my lifelong best friend Rob) was exactly where I find myself now, enjoying work and without that one thing we are looking forward to retiring TO. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the outlier even though this is likely the best source of advice for me whenever they, and I, are ready to take that next step.

In a funny way the people who didn’t attend were in many ways at least as present at those that did. Perhaps because some of them were friends I was looking forward to seeing in real life rather than on social media, or folks who’d suggested that they might be there and I just expected to see them. Beth was curious about my friends’ and my dating back in the day (only one old flame for any of the guys was there). Where were they all? Where were the ones who’d come to Reunions in the years just after graduation but have stayed away for 5 or 10 or 30 years? Thinking about them now, they were mostly the kids who aced college. Grades, sports, romance, through the lens of 40 years gone by it seems that they were the ones who nailed the whole Williams thing. A couple of the girls I did date including my freshman crush, Jaime, come to mind. They seemed to sail peacefully and happily through our four years in Billsville.

One is left to wonder, though. Was my take on their college days accurate, and they were just so good that a reunion could only be a letdown? Or did I totally miss the boat and their experience was as varied and normal as the rest of us? Maybe secretly worse, and a reunion just opens old wounds? Funny. As we drive home it’s the classmates we didn’t see who fill our thoughts. Enough to see ourselves back in the Purple Valley 5 years hence, back to visit with the young man who left college unaware that he’d only just begun to learn who he would one day become.

To my classmates, I hope I see you long before our next Reunion. For those of you with whom I’ve become Sunday friends, well, I’ll see you next week…

Leave a Reply