Princeton Reunions blowout. A week ago, we had an first-ever all-classes reunion for my school district (a district without a high school), and while I can't say that it was objectively a success - maybe only 30 alumni showed up - I'm still quite glad I went. There were only a couple of people there that I've truly kept in touch with (not counting in a casual Facebook way), and most everyone else were essentially strangers (or actually strangers, in the case of alumni from much-younger classes).
That seems to bother most people. I asked many friends if they were planning on coming back, and so many people said "nah, I don't know anyone who's going". Which is a vicious circle, of course. And mildly insulting - I'm going!! Am I not enough of a draw?
Many of the conversations at the reunion revolved around people who were absent: "How's so-and-so?" "Oh he's living [a twelve-minute drive away]!" "Really? Why isn't he here?" "He said he didn't know anyone who was coming." Kind of sad, really. It was $5 and you could bring your own beer. Why not take a couple of hours, go to the park and see who shows up?
Well, I had fun with the people who did show up. Even if we didn't hang out together much back then, even if we sometimes had completely different memories of school, even if I barely had anything in common with some of them anymore; we knew each other for a few years 25 or so years ago, and that's enough. Enough to spend a pleasant afternoon and fun dinner with, essentially, a group of friendly strangers.
Also, it started pouring. So we got to bond underneath plastic tablecloths. That always helps.
Sue pleaded pregnancy and stayed home, so it was just me and Violet for the day. She was a big hit (as she usually is), though she kept me from spending too much time with anyone, as I was always chasing her to the playground, which was at exactly the wrong distance - close enough for her to see through the trees and run to, far enough that I couldn't comfortably keep an eye on her while staying at the reunion.
But if she weren't there, perhaps I wouldn't have found out that she's exactly a day younger than a fellow alum's *granddaughter* (an alumna who was in a younger class than me, too). And that's the sort of conversation I don't normally have staying home or socializing with the usual crowd of people who are very much like me. Which is one reason I like reunions.
(PS - Photos of the reunion are here, in case you're interested.)