By Barb Arland-Fye
Graduating from high school in the year of our nation’s bicentennial — 1976 — was exciting. My Catholic high school was one of many, I’m sure, that featured yearbooks with patriotic covers or at least patriotic colors.
One of my best friends wrote a clever Declaration of Independence for our class, which I attempted to render in fountain pen for the Archbishop Brady High School Class of ’76 Yearbook. I still cringe when I view the final result in the yearbook, which includes the fountain pen signatures of the 135 or so members of our class. I botched my own signature.
Thirty-four years later, during this season of class reunions, I find myself wondering whatever happened to the Class of 1976. I attended the five-year and 10-year reunions, but have missed the ones that followed. Occasionally I receive an e-mail from an advertiser alerting me that another member of my high school class is now on a classmates.com website. But I’m not particularly interested in paying for access to the site.
A few months ago, a classmate e-mailed as many of us as she could locate to see if anyone had interest in planning a reunion for our 35th anniversary next year. Her posting included an e-mail address for that long-ago best friend who I hadn’t been in contact with for years. Both of us had aspirations of being Pulitzer Prize winning writers some day. I e-mailed my friend in hopes of renewing our friendship. She responded, but didn’t seem particularly interested in re-establishing a relationship.
Our brief correspondence reminded me of a comment a mentor made at the end of my college internship. I had complained that it was hard to say goodbye and I was doing it so often. I was 22 years old and longed for stability, for a place to establish roots, get married and start a family. The mentor responded, “You’ll be saying hello and goodbye for the rest of your life.” And she was right.
People enter and exit my life, just as I enter and exit theirs. But I believe the relationships have shaped the life I live today and the person I’ve become. Even though some relationships are not permanent, God has blessed me with firmly planted roots and a family whose love nurtures and sustains me.
I can’t pinpoint why class reunions and summertime evoke a wave of nostalgia in me. My husband, Steve, doesn’t get nostalgic about the people from his past. He does have fond memories, though, about the 1967 Chevelle that was his first car.
Our older son, Colin, graduated five years ago from high school and his nostalgia is acute. For him, school days were the best years of his life; he has autism and longs for the stability and routine that school provided.
My high school years were not the best years of my life; I think those years are the ones I’m living now. Nevertheless, on this Fourth of July holiday it is fun to reflect on the events and people who shared the early years with me.