Last October Dan and I enjoyed a short get-away to a B & B. It was a mini-reunion with friends I've known since kindergarten. That translates to over 6 decades!
The group quickly began to reminisce. There's a lot of nostalgia about the 1950's and 60's and many collective memories of the simple, carefree lives we led. We felt safe growing up in a small town where most people knew our names. We walked and rode bikes everywhere and our dogs ran free alongside us. There were hours of unstructured playtime and so many more opportunities to dream, as we embraced rock n' roll and watched lazy clouds wander across the sky in dreadful summer heat and felt our mittens freeze on our hands in the winter snow.
As we read through our old yearbooks, we snickered, at the references to bars or parties, knowing the drinking age was 18 and almost everyone was an underage drinker. We checked out the All Sports Dinner brochure and noted that although girls' sports existed, none were acknowledged at the end of the year awards ceremony. And actually, the only female names on the pamphlet were those of the cheerleaders who existed only to support boys' teams. We laughed over stories of the 7th grade math teacher who threw erasers at the kids who didn't put the correct answer on the chalkboard.
So, it wasn't all picture perfect. But compared to the kids today, we felt privileged to have lived and shared the values of a distant slower-paced middle class world.
However, although we grew up in the same place for 12 years or longer, it was clear that our politics had grown very different. Like an extended family at Thanksgiving, once our differences became apparent, we were careful not to "go there." during our conversations. As we talked, I wondered how we could have spent so much time in a class of just 64 graduates without carrying forward the same world views today? We had the same teachers, walked the same streets, shared the horror of our senior year in high school when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, one of the defining moments in modern history.
Yet, there we were finding ourselves on opposite ends of the political divide so many years later.
We exchanged cell phone photos of friends and families and told stories about our grandchildren. As we each spoke, the pride and love of our families were palpable. Faces lightened, voices became animated. This was clearly what mattered. And it was what we still had in common.
As we drove away, Dan and I talked about the wonderful time we had. We were both so energized by the collective memories of that long-ago era that laid the foundation for so much that would follow.
But really, in the silence of that car ride, the clouds drifted overhead and we happily dreamed of heading home, where the fast-pace of the present day would welcome us in the morning.