Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, California 


Even though we were on time, my 50th high school reunion was in full swing when we arrived. A twenty-something door attendant handed me a badge displaying my ancient graduation photo. “Wow, you had long hair,” she said. “Yeah, we all did back then.”

Familiar faces began to pop out of the crowd, and names floated to the surface, sometimes with a covert glance at a name tag. Old friends I expected to see greeted me with a hug and a back slap, along with the delightful surprise of many classmates I hadn’t thought of in years. As I gazed into the faces, familiar mannerisms emerged, with voices and laughter virtually unchanged by decades of living, lighting me up inside.

I’ve known many of these schoolmates since we were five years old and hold a deep curiosity for how life has treated them. A strong sense of belonging began to unfold throughout the event as I mingled through the crowd. We rarely mentioned the distinct past we shared because our memories still hung in the air like incense.

The memorial board sat on a table in full view and attendance, displaying the photos of too many well-known faces, their essence floating off the display, our separation dissolving to a thin nullity. All those feelings of friends past, blending with the party of hugs and memories, lent the moment an air of acceptance and a gentle reckoning with my own mortality. 

The evening left me wholly filled with feelings for these special ones, all the classmates I’ve known so well. These are the ones who knew me before life unraveled, I thought, back when everything seemed possible. And the memories of our shared past on the brink of oblivion once again solidified with unexpected pleasure.