Going to a reunion, after more than 25 years is a very strange experience. 7 years ago I went to my 25th year school reunion. Last week I went to a JWT staff reunion. I worked for the company from 1979 to 1985. Both experiences were similar as in both cases I was meeting up with some very special people who were part of my daily life all those years ago.
And right there is the very first thing you learn. People don’t change. Sure they may look a bit different – lacking hair or grey hair in the men and a definite softness in the face and body of most of the women – but voices, mannerisms and personalities remain intact. So that as soon as you begin talking all those physical differences fade away. Years melt and relationships seem to resume exactly at the point they left off… . even though it is decades since you have last spoken together.
At a deeper level something else also shifts… very subtly you are brought face to face with your younger self. Your carefree self, the person you were before you embarked on a life partnership, before kids, before the slavery of a mortgage. Very often your younger self is one who has suffered few traumas or difficult life events. And a reunion offers you the opportunity, if only for a few hours, to become that person again.
Sure, lip service is paid to finding out how many kids your ex colleagues/friends may have, where they live… but in reality no one really cares much about that stuff. We acknowledge that we have all moved on with life – in a myriad of different directions. But that’s not the point, is it?
The whole point of a reunion is to reclaim and revisit those earlier days. To hug the special people who were once a very important part of your day to day life. To acknowledge the fun, the craic and the laughs we shared so long ago. In the intervening years you have often wondered if you are looking back at those times through the proverbial rose coloured glasses. A good reunion shouts loud that you are not wrong. Those days were the best of times. The times you laughed loudest and longest; the times when your main concerns were in having a good time and enjoying yourself.
Life would be very boring if everything remained the same forever. We are all on a journey and so we all move on. We have all seen different things, done different things, experienced tough times and sublime joy. But the great gift of a reunion is the pause it allows in life; a pause in which you are granted the opportunity to revisit your past, to remember your younger self and to embrace her. And if you are lucky you might be able to reclaim a little bit of that more reckless, more spirited, more spontaneous you. The trick then is to ensure she doesn’t cause too much chaos in your current reality!
I will keep you posted!
Photo of old pals - Des Abbot, yours truly and Tony Fitzgibbon - decades later