Some observations from the last four days of reunion activity:
1) Schedule changes this year left me feeling a bit off kilter; the rhythm of what and when things were to get done had changed. Thursday morning, instead of busting my butt to prepare for the noontime arrival of my largest class, I was a little disturbed to find I had time to read the national news. OH MY GOD, SHOULDN'T I BE DOING SOMETHING?!
2) Schedule changes also meant I attended different events than usual, including the annual dinner dance for our senior citizens. I hadn't attended the entire thing since about 2005. During the reception I was chatting with some longtime volunteers and then caught myself short. I realized that it was exactly 20 years ago that I'd planned my first reunions with these same volunteers.
3) The ballroom dance team did several exhibition dances, and perhaps the best moment of the night was when their leader announced a cha-cha lesson. Soon the floor was jam-packed with red jackets and their ladies! I do love the dinner-dance generation.
4) My oldest reunion class adjourned from the larger group Friday for their own luncheon, and I had the opportunity to join them. Table talk turned to osteoarthritis (one of the program topics of the morning), concert halls, and very nice comments about all the reunion programs. I'd been warned in advance that a presentation would be made to me, but I didn't expect it to be a set of four highball glasses with pewter Claddagh symbols impressed into them. They (the glasses) gave me an opportunity to make some gracious remarks in response.
5) Anxiety about concert seating at Symphony Hall, so pronounced on Monday and Tuesday, had largely dissipated for the rest of the week, in spite of a torrent of cancellations. I was further lulled into a sense of relative calm by our ease in getting from campus to the Hall. With the Red Sox playing a home game, plus anticipated traffic of weekenders leaving the city, we expected a delayed journey. Instead we made a quick trip over, got set up in record time - and then horrors! The first bus of concertgoers arrived 15 minutes before the house could open! My heart went into paroxysms - but of course everyone just waited and then came in when the doors opened. #calmdown
6) So many years this concert is "the best ever," and here was another one. A great new conductor, a program received well by all but the most disagreeable, and fewer unclaimed tickets than usual. (That said, there were a lot of last-minute cancellations.)
7) During intermission I made a point of seeking out a special friend, the wife of a longtime volunteer who had been widowed since last year's concert. She and her husband came every year with their friends (all on their reunion committee), and I was overjoyed earlier when I saw her name on the list as the guest of friends. She's just as brave as ever, and I continue to admire her.
8) This year "The Stars and Stripes Forever" came at the very end of the concert. Having seated a younger class under one of the two balloon nets, I watched from the lobby windows, eager to see their reaction. The sea of arms raised in happy anticipation as soon as the net opened, picked up by the lights from the stage, will remain one of the happiest images of a joyous night.
9) Unexpected Former Colleague Appearance I: Just before the memorial service started on Saturday morning, I was deep in conversation with a volunteer in the chapel entrance. Turning around, I was shocked to find a former university colleague from the 1990s right in my face. What on earth?! And she looked exactly the same as she did 20 years ago. Only later did I realize how very few people remain who'd remember working with her.
10) In the spring a colleague invited me to record a voiceover for a fund-raising thank-you video to be broadcast during our Large Annual Luncheon. I had not yet seen or heard the final product until the program run-through, and I will not deny that I was thrilled. Standing in the sound booth on my aching feet, I couldn't stop smiling.
10a) I miss the word "luncheon." "Lunch" sounds like something you bite briefly, not nearly grand enough for an Occasion.
11) A little old-fashioned rushing around with missing presentations and brightly-colored table linens early Saturday evening brought back some of the old days for me.
12) Ankled over the to the museum to meet my Very Youngest Class Ever, and boy, are they loud! (Not that I have any finger left to point at anyone on THAT issue.) Having worked so much all these years with the Generations of White Men, it's a beautiful illustration to see how diverse the university has become in 50 years: more women, more races, and at least two Members of the Tribe. #bowtieboys
13) And friendly. I had a great conversation with one of the class officers I'd worked with most.
14) Plodded on to my oldest class, enjoying their class dinner in a two-tiered space. Thinking to ease everyone gradually downstairs for dinner, the staff gently circulated to let people know dinner was served. In almost less than five minutes, every diner was seated. Our people love to eat!
15) And then to the gala dinner of my largest class. I stood in shock when I got there for a good 30 seconds. It's not unusual at these functions for at least a dozen people not to show up. I was horrified to discover that only two placecards remained unclaimed - and one of them belonged to someone who'd gone in without it. We had a FULL house!
16) Circulating in the dining room I got to speak to a lot of people, committee members and alumni who'd heard my name. I'm not always at ease doing this - I don't like to interrupt people's dinner - but when they summon you it's easier.
17) By the time I made it to the Big Dance Party, my feet hurt all the way up past my knees, but as often happens at the Big Dance Party, most of us staffers got a second wind and danced. And drank beer. And it was good.
18) Unexpected Former Colleague Appearance II: I was definitely not expecting to see an Intrepid Young Former Colleague there, but there he was! Invited by an alumnus, Intrepid Young Former Colleague had lingered for the Big Dance Party, and he and I took 15 minutes (seated, thank goodness) to catch up.
19) Sunday morning, my last event was my largest class's brunch. I'd told them I'd be there by 11 AM, and apparently there was some anxiety among the volunteers about whether or not I'd ever get there. But there I got, and commandeered into a few different conversations before their class meeting began.
20) And during that class meeting they made me an honorary member of their class AND presented me with a special addition of their cap. Since they said such nice things, I had to follow the example of Original Boss and "claim the right of rebuttal," acknowledging the spouses ("Behind every graduate of this institution is a very surprised mother-in-law"), colleagues, and the committee.
21) Summoned back to central campus by the boss, we had our traditional group sit-down in a conference room, including hitting on helium balloons. (Nothing in the world with helium sounds as funny as "And heee vill coouurrrrzzzzzz zee DAYYYYYYYdat he waz booooorn a Frankensteiiiiiiiiin.") In the last six or so years we've been given either a hamper or a gift card at the end of the weekend - so helpful when the cupboard is bare after days away from home. This year it came with a Spotlight Award for all of us, and I almost got weepy over it.
22) For our Last Official Act, a group photo outside an abandoned tent, leaning forward in what a colleague described as "the sorority squat." And then home.