You can look it up and are unlikely to find the word in the dictionary, but if “reune” is good enough for Harvard (We Want to Reune), it’s good enough for me. Some words aren’t legal but should be; reune is one of those words.
In any case, this turned out to be too intellectually heavy a week for me to take on the subject of evolution as I said I would. I had been planning to someday write a piece about reunions for a Wednesday post, but the topic is just too close to the top of my mind right now to pass by, and for a couple of reasons.
One has to do with my last piece, about running and my history as a non-athlete, in which I dredged up high school memories. I was reluctant to write certain aspects of that because I recently connected with some of my classmates on Facebook who were of the athletic ilk and very likely at the softball tryout I wrote about. I would hate for them to think I harbor resentment over any of that. Although the clash between us was very real, and notable for me because I blended in with every other clique at our school, at our last reunion, I was delighted to find that all the baggage was gone. With all the high school jostling for position in the past, I think we mutually discovered or rediscovered that we are funny, friendly, warm, and real people. In particular, it was a highlight for me to talk with one woman who had been a good friend in elementary school but who I didn’t talk with at all throughout the teen years. At the reunion, the fact that we had once liked each other a lot outweighed the nonsense that, timewise, was the dominant part of our acquaintance.
That’s one thing I like about reunions. The people who go to them are the ones who want to reconnect, and I find they are warm, friendly, and anxious to both reminisce and find a genuine connection.
The other reason I wanted to write on this topic is that, earlier this week, I attended a reunion of co-workers from a company I last worked at 12 years ago. It’s a place I’ve never truly disconnected from because of our active e-mail list and the fact that I have stayed in touch with so many people; I even went so far as to become related to one of them by getting him to marry my sister (which he did very willingly, and rightly so). Still, I have not seen or spoken with many of the reunion attendees since 1996; others I have never talked to in person but have become friendly with through our e-mail list.
As a visual person with a good (though fading) memory, another reason I enjoy reunions is for the way the sea of faces—both the overtly familiar ones and those that take some work to associate with their mental database entry—stimulate those parts of my brain. I guess that’s a technical way of saying I love seeing people again, but it really does hit deeper than that, to a spot that’s highly satisfying. (I know there’s a joke in there, given the name of my site, but it’s just not coming. Oh, surely there is a joke in that sentence, too, but let’s drop it before things get out of hand. I know, I know…it never ends.)
There are also the surprising conversations, the people who you forget how much you liked until you realize how good it feels to talk to them, to have the meaning of your words perceived in the way only that person would perceive them, and for them to respond in their unique and comfortingly familiar way.
One of the best moments at the recent reunion occurred toward the end of the night. A few of us were talking and, during a pause in the conversation (who am I kidding—almost certainly I randomly interrupted), I held up my pocketbook and said, “I just got this at TJ Maxx.” Now you would think that would have been a conversation stopper, especially amid a group of engineers. But there was great interest in the fact that I had been shopping, and so I pointed out the shoes I had purchased (which elicited oohs and ahs, and yes, from male engineers).
The thing I liked about that moment was the enthusiastic response to a mundane comment. This is the sort of thing that binds people in the work place…the random comment at the coffee maker, the idle chit-chat before a meeting starts, the ridiculously deep conversation you might get into when someone stops by your office with a question. That moment at the reunion was so much better for me than catching up with what people had been doing (though that was nice too), because it was the closest the night came to recapturing what it was like to be with those people as we were.
I guess if you were happy at a place—and really, I’m happy pretty much everywhere—you seek to feel the good things you felt when you were there. And at a reunion, only the good stuff surfaces, at least once you reach the point in life when you are secure enough that you can relax and be yourself. And so I will continue to look forward to opportunities to “reune,” whether Merriam-Webster likes it or not.
Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for reading.