Friday, October 18, 2019


There’s a high-school reunion this weekend. It’s got
one of those milestone dates that make you say: “Who? Me? It can’t have been that long... Can it?”

They’ll give us a tour tonight of the school that was built the year most of us were born, and show us what’s changed there since we were 17 and 18. They’ll walk us out to an alumni tent where we’ll hope to find some hot dogs, and then into the stands for the last home football game of the season.

We’ll look out at the lights and the astroturf, and some of us will remember when this was a dirt practice field -- a sweat-soaked agoge that by summer’s end was hard-packed enough to bust a mule’s ankle. We’ll watch the young players and cheerleaders and students on the field and around us, and remember when we were young, on the field or in the stands under Friday night lights.

Tomorrow, we’ll go further into that place where we’ve got our feet in different decades. There’ll be...

  • People you’ve known since before high school, since you both were first-graders at St. Lawrence or St. Pius, each carrying a peanut butter sandwich in a Spiderman lunch box, some of those people now grandparents.
  • People you’ve known since before they went to the senior prom together, who later married and are here tonight, still as husband and wife.
  • People you’ve known since before they got PhDs in some kind of physics or started a business that lets 400 people make a living.
  • People you’ve known since before they made a horrible mistake and paid for it in what novelist Tom McGuane called “the crowbar hotel.”
  • People you’ve known since before they took a son to Tanzania and climbed Kilimanjaro together.
  • People who will be here tonight only in spirit because they’ve already left this place, their names to be spoken in a service led by your classmate who is now a priest, in the chapel of a school annex that was a convent for Benedictine nuns when it was built in 1960.
  • People you haven’t seen since you were 18, and people you had a beer with just last week.

People who have stories to tell.

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