11.29.2010

a gathering...

this weekend past my high school graduating class had an informal 25th reunion at a bar in Bethesda...

25th High School Reunion

as part of our family Thanksgiving Tradition we stagger our approach and departure...

we try to dodge the holiday car traffic by leaving for Pittsburgh a day or two early
then we head back on Saturday rather than Sunday
there is always some traffic on Saturday... but nothing like the parking lot that people experience on Sunday

getting back on Saturday evening made it such that I was able to attend a gathering that worked as an informal 25th High School Reunion


we arrived home and unloaded the car
everyone was happy to be home
happy to be home and out of the car

the drive was long... a closed road on our back road route home made a long drive longer

out of the car and into the house our black dog Brutus greeted us with a hearty wag of the tail
Brutus' wag was so great that his hind quarters swayed from side to side with such energy that his aging hips nearly slipped out from under him

after unloading the car I took Brutus into the woods for his evening walk
it was good to be back home


I took a moment in the early evening darkness to enjoy the silence
no cars swarming around me
no arguing kids
just me... my dog... the leafless trees around me... and the star filled sky above
I was able to breath

it felt good

once in the house I glanced at the time and plotted my evening
at the computer I double checked the information on FACEBOOK for my high school reunion for date, time, and location
although I had never been to Union Jack's in Bethesda I had a good idea where it was
seeing its address on St Elmo's I estimated that it should be right around where the pool hall SHOO
TZ used to be... in fact... I guessed that Union Jacks could in fact be in the spot where Shootz once was

so...
as my family ate dinner I suited up and stepped out the door
with knog lights back on the bike and a NiteRider light on my helmet I was on the bike and moving
it was cold... I was dressed in casual street clothes rather than riding gear which had me feeling the bite in the air

as I rode the short distance between my home in Mount Pleasant in DC to a bar in Bethesda I could feel some fatigue
the combination of the long holiday weekend with family, the two bike rides in the cold, and the long drive from Pittsburgh to DC was evident in my level of intensity

the Specialized Tri Cross with its flat bars was feeling crusty
the bike had not been cleaned... this made for some additional resistance
the drive train was suffering from the ride in the rain on Thanksgiving Day, the ride in the cold in Saturday, and having to rest on the bike rack in the wind and cold on the drive up and back to visit family
a little lube would have gone a long way

it was refreshing to be on the bike
as tired as I was... getting back in the car did not seem like an option
especially since I planned on having a few drinks
so I accepted my fate and pedaled my way to the bar

drinking and biking makes more sense to me than drinking and driving
except for the danger of there being drunk drivers around me... the drunk biker

it is not a long distance from Mount Pleasant to downtown Bethesda
I arrived and found a spot to lock my bike up across the street from the bar
as I changed my shirt I watched as other graduates from my graduating year arrived
with a pack filled with jacket, helmet, lights, and other assorted bicycle gear I entered the bar
sure enough... Union Jacks stands where Shootz once stood

reunions can bring on an onslaught of emotions
anxiety... awkwardness... excitement
and then some


it is interesting...
gatherings like this act as our personal UP series (7 UP is now on 49 Up)
Seven Up and the UP SERIES on the WIKI Page
http://en.wikipedia.org

a clip from the UP SERIES on YOUTUBE
www.youtube.com

I will admit... I attend these sort of events as much to fulfill some curiosity as I do to see people
honestly... I was not friends with that many people in my class... friendly yes... friends... no
there is a difference

even if I was not best buddies with the people at this event
I did share a four year experience with them

this creates a common bond
many of these people went to school together for more years than just high school... this extends their bond
I went to Our Lady of Lourdes for grade school... which made it such that I was not introduced to any of these people until 9th grade

it was good to see everyone...
it was good catching up...

everyone looked pretty good considering

the conversation was interesting and awkward for everyone
I was not sure what other people were experiencing... but at events like this there is often a bit
of a paralysis
it appeared that people get stuck in place... afraid to mix and mingle... anxious that they will not recognize people or that people will not recognize them


I admit... I suffered some of this
it was fun to try and figure out who people were
this was all done without the assistance of name tags

what to talk about?
there was the usual...
so... what are you up to? where are you living? married? kids? etc...


it is all very interesting to me...
five years ago at our 20th reunion I had a similar experience
I meandered about shaking hands, kissing cheeks, and exchanging hellos with people
often finding myself in a position where I was hearing a person's voice for the first time
sure... I knew them... I knew who they were... I recognized them... but in my four years of high school I may have never talked to them
even if I had home room with someone or a class or two... that does not mean that we ever talked or hung out

maybe I was a bit shy...
maybe I was a bit of a geek...
maybe a little of both


maybe the social groups had already been formed from grade school and then junior high
so that when I arrived in high school I was not able to break in...
or maybe I should just accept that it was the shy geekiness that was previously mentioned

no matter what the reasons were... I was never able to properly assimilate

that was my reality
that is part of who I was and who I became


never fully inducted into any one group
which allowed me to float in and move about the peripheral of many groups

as much as I like to go to these events for the sociological experience of getting to witness the real life UP SERIES where I get to see what people have become
I am also in attendance to sort things out
to try and figure out why things were the way they were

I would like to think that I am at peace with things

there were "in groups" and their were "out groups"

Bethesda Chevy Chase was a fairly large school... maybe 1,200 to 1,400 people

which allowed for a number of "groups"
our school was in my perspective SUB-CULTURALLY COOL

B-CC WAS ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL!
while my class of 1985 may have still been clinging to an older identity of cheer leaders and football players

the film DAZED AND CONFUSED would do well to give people an idea of what B-CC was like
but... not for my full duration
when I arrived the school was transitioning from the Hippie Era to Punk Rock
while still possessing the standard percentage of PREPS and JOCKS
after all... B-CC was a Soccer Power House as well as Basketball State Champs!
as said... it was a fairly large school which allowed for a good number of groups and sub g
roups

others would tell it differently...

if you were smoking cigarettes on the C Steps you had a different experience than if you were spending your time hanging out in the gym
then of course there were AP classes and an Industrial Arts hall
so... one person may have lived an life closer to HOOP DREAMS while another person may have been in THE BREAKFAST CLUB

DAZED AND CONFUSED
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazed_and_Confused

we occupied the same space at the same time

we grew up together in the same era
this shared experience creates some sort of bond

it is not just about seeing old friends
it is about reliving some of those old experiences

so... with beer in hand I meandered through the crowd

I am confident that I am not the only one who wished that we had name tags
everyone hates name tags... no one wants to wear a name tag
but we all appreciate when someone has a name tag that aids in kick starting our memory
if nothing else... non-graduates... spouses should have at least been wearing name tags... that could have helped each of us in a few situations
I know that I mistook one spouse for a graduate... and I do not doubt that others did the same


all in all it was a good time
time well spent
good use of my time

I really enjoyed seeing people
as per usual... I did not get to make contact to everyone I wanted to
there were people who I stood next to and started to make contact... then got pulled away

I guess that is the way it goes

and of course... my manic personality can cause me to short a circuit and act a little scatter brain in these situations

there were people across the room who I recognized and would have like to exchanged hellos with... but did not make it across the room
if I tried to cross the room.... I did not make it more than a few steps
it was a slow migration through the crowd of familiar faces and some less familiar faces
these events can play out like this


then as it got later people peeled off
humorously... a group of people left not telling everyone that they were leaving

when one attendant looked around for a friend I told them that they had left... leaving him as a decoy
it was all very funny to me
lots of things are often funny to me... but maybe not to others
and it is not just the beers... or which I had many

the evening went on... the beers took the conversation from a polite superficial level of conver
sation with a G RATING to PG-13
then by the end of the evening there was more laughter and maybe an R RATING

with people gone there was the discussion of WHO WAS HOT and WHO WAS NOT!
really... some people looked great...

others... not so great
but for the most part... people aged pretty well

people seemed well and well adjusted
there were the standard number of marriages with kids... divorces... divorces with kids... and of course... unmarried without kids

many people seemed to be on the same page
not sure if there was talk about real estate
while there was definite some talk about schools and school systems

although I had my camera in my bag... I did not take any photos
sometimes I just have to leave the camera in the bag
best to look at people eye to eye rather than from behind the camera
then there is the intrusiveness of it all
people love photos of themselves... but hate to have their picture taken
but of course... I regret not taking a few photos

it was good...
it was time well spend...
glad life is working out for everyone!


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