Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reune, or uniting again

Inspired by Dr. Grumbles post, I decided to post, since it has been a while.

My college reunion was this weekend. It was good to see friends and catch up. (It was also wonderful to see a fellow blogger classmate.) There's definitely something a little odd about reunions, though. You keep having these moments in which you realize that you are having the same stale conversation over and over again, and that at some point you had ceased paying attention to anything the other person was saying. You know your own answers to the totally predictable questions (this is my husband P, we still live here, big law stooge, Harry), and you ask the same predictable questions in return, and you have the same stock responses to the answers given by the other participant in the conversation. Eventually, you realize you haven't heard a word the other person said, but they didn't even notice, because some part of your brain is still functioning on some strange sort of autopilot while the conscious part has drifted off and begun contemplating the surreal nature of the experience of participating in a conversation while not really being mentally present.* As the two parts of your mind start to come together again, you want to share your experience with the other person but you realize that you would then have to admit that you weren't paying attention to what they were saying. And, well, it's one thing unintentionally not to listen to someone else, but it's another thing entirely to own up to it. So you let them remain ignorant and instead tell the next person you talk to before you get into the routine banter. You then wonder if you could have had that conversation without your conscious mind participating, in a very meta way. (Or maybe it's just me.)

But it's not like that with everyone. Just some people. There were a lot of people I was excited to see and catch up with and whose goings-on were things I wanted to learn more about and as to whom when I said 'let's catch up soon' I actually meant it. But my class was large, and I knew, at least tangentially, quite a lot of people. And, to be fair, if we were that close, we would probably have kept in touch better and they might already have known that the man with me was P and that we still live here, where I lawyer, with our son Harry. Or at least have seen it on Facebook.

At our last reunion, little enough time had passed that it felt like we had been away for the summer, so now we had to fill one another in on what we had been up to. Some people were married, many to people they were dating in college. Some people were in grad school. One or two had kids and/or a career (as opposed to a job, which was what most people had). This time, it was different. People were doctors with specialties and areas of expertise and/or had more than one child and/or had sold the business they started out of college to a multinational corporation and/or had moved overseas to work in a developing country. And others had done none of those things and were just enjoying dancing and drinking, like it had been summer and no time had passed at all. And we all said "I'll talk to you soon" when what most of us meant was "I'll see you in five years." Then we all went back to what we do when we aren't doing that.

*I think that non-conscious part of my mind could in fact pass the Turing Test, and I can't decide if that makes sense or is totally weird. Thinking about it now, it reminds me a bit of what Adam Sandler's character did in Click when he skipped ahead. But less weird.


Jen said...

I haven't been to a reunion yet. I doubt I ever will, actually, we live too far from all of them.

Nicky said...

I like going to reunions for two reasons: (1) it's the only time when all of my close college friends, scattered as they are these days all over the world, are together in one place, so it's amazing to hang out as a group again, if only for a weekend; and (2) it's kind of cool to briefly chat with all those other people that I used to see around the dorm every single day, but aren't close enough with to stay in touch regularly. Yeah, the conversations are a bit repetitive, but still, it's neat to see what's happening with a bunch of people at the same life stage as me.

Also, it fascinates me to find out, for instance, that the guy I was friends with freshman year, who was famous at the time for his talent for stealing large quantities of soda from the dining hall, hidden in large plastic jugs under his shirt, is now a federal prosecutor. Stealing soda isn't exactly a federal crime, but still... the world is funny sometimes.

niobe said...

I kinda sorta went to my reunion too. By which I mean I didn't sign up for any of the events, but I arranged to meet up with a few people who I really wanted to see.

But (and maybe you feel this way too) since I live in the same town where I went to college and with L working at one of the grad schools, I feel a bit like it's always reunion weekend. How can I go back, if I've never really left?

docgrumbles said...

I haven't been to an official reunion, like Niobe, and like her, I am always running into people anyway. I end up having those autopilot conversations in Home Depot or yhe bank.