I recently posed the question in the alumni Facebook group about why alumni attend reunions. Specifically, I was thinking about the 5 year reunions. The ‘big’ ones. The ones where we pretend we remember all of the words and all of the steps. Where we laugh, share about new jobs, new marriages, new babies, and then sometimes about divorces, deaths, 2nd marriages, writing books, traveling the world again, and retirement.
Ultimately, all of the ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter. It is the people who bring us back. What a shock, right? After all, we are alumni of an organization called Up With People. Through the years we sang , “You and me, we’re just people, can’t you see we’re just people…”, and “People.. are the energy….” We sang about the color of God’s skin as it relates to people. We sang of giving children back their childhood, we sang silly songs about basketball games, and we swayed to “Wel Annemarieke” as if we were all in a bar in Belgium. (I need someone so spell check that and guarantee it was a Belgian song!)
People are what binds us together. As I have interviewed alumni for the “Cactus Lounge“, I hear stories of wonderful gatherings between 2 or 4 or 50 friends. I have heard the stories of shock and sadness as well as excitement and intrigue.
When we, the global ‘we’, come to a 5- or 10-, or a 35- or 50- year reunion (or any in-between), we are transported back to another time and place. If you are like me, you smile just thinking about it. You laugh about what you did. You might also wince a little too, as you revisit in the review mirror!
In hotels around the globe, at “official” and “self-conducted” reunions, small groups of alumni sneak into corners that aren’t really rooms, and, share stories into the wee hours of the morning. We let our children, of many ages, play with other children whom they have just met, because of the common thread that connects us all. Some come with spouses, others reconnect and have found a spouse or partner at a reunion, and live and love again. Often, there is a piano in a lobby that is put to use as people remember and sing songs from their shows or that were of significance to the group.
Some at reunions have found kindred spirits who work in the same industry. Some meet people whom they met outside of a reunion and had no idea they were with another alum.
Friends become family, and I hasten to add that sometimes, those we least expected to be close to, become the dearest people in the world to us as the years go by.
I am smiling a bit about those non-alumni spouses who either brave these reunions with a grin or chagrin. Some are swept into the midst of everything, and embrace it all. Others stay home and send their spouse off for to enjoy their time away, knowing the significance of these friends.
One of the people who responded on Facebook responded by saying “Only Uppies understand the depth of our experiences, although we each had a different window on the bus.” I loved this statement whether she intended for me to read it and ‘hear it’ the way I did.
We all see life through a different lens. Like birth siblings our experiences are/were the same and yet different. Reunions remind us of that. The songs remind us of that. The laughter reminds us of that. The tears remind us of that.
Come to reunion. Yep, it’s expensive. Yep, you might have to save a long time. Yep, it might be a family sacrifice. I get it. I know it.
And, yet, I honestly believe you will never regret it.
Do you remember the song lyrics, “If I was looking through your eyes, I wonder what’d I’d see…” ?
Revisit your lens. See the world afresh through older wiser eyes with the people of your youth.
It’s simply the best.