Imagine, if you will, a week-end where you leave your family behind, along with your to-do list, compute, laundry room, and perhaps most significantly, your existing identity as a "special needs mom."
At my 30th year high school reunion last week-end I was not Carol Freedman, the mom and wife who goes to IEP meetings, chases Sayer in the neighborhood, and helps Jacob balances class work, sports, instant messaging and the need to visit ESPN.com on what seems an hourly basis. Nor was I Carol Freedman, the grant writer who creates budgets and crafts project descriptions.
Instead I was Carol Solow- I can't believe it's you! The high school senior plus 30 years who was carefree, funny, a bit gullible and a notoriously perilous driver. What a wonderful time I had. The "gang" I hung out with was all there, and we laughed as we struggled with jewelry clasps (when the eye sight goes...) and watched our cholesterol (egg white omelets at the diner - we HAVE become our parents).
And at the reunion, it was wonderful to see folks I haven't seen in - well, for most, decades. Memory is an amazing thing. Time after time, I was asked "Don't you remember when.....?" and I was like, huh? And again and again I would walk up to someone and say, "I remember when you...." and they would be like, huh? Put us together and all our memories were enhanced and expanded.
It was great to see that the clique walls really did come down. While there were a few people who I greeted who clearly had little clue who I was, there were just as many I couldn't recall who said "Carol Solow! How are you doing." Although we may be a "self-selected" group - people who are miserable may be less likely to attend a reunion- I was amazed at our resiliency. We have survived widowhood, 9/11 (one class mate is a NYFD fire captain; another a NYPD police man), brain tumors (that would be me), and more. But there we were, dancing the night away.
Although the reunion, after party and visit to the diner AFTER the after party were great fun, I had just as great a time the next day at the Mini-Mart street fair in Sea Cliff. The mini-mart is an annual tradition that started when we were teens, I think. As one friend said gazing at the teenagers congregating in clumps, "Remember when we were the punks at the Mini-Mart?"
So there we were, standing on the corner of a closed off street for hours (ouch!) sipping beer and hanging out. We alumni shared even more memories. When things happen so long ago they almost become surreal so it was good to get collaboration that I DID once see Billy Joel hanging out at a bar, and I DID go hear the Police play at a club in New York City [once again, I've forgotten which one...]
Because the reunion was held so close to Election Day some of us spent a good deal of time arguing politics, but in a good natured way. I think the passage of time makes it easier for me to have true affection for people whose political views are the polar opposite of my own - you know, wrong.
What I have learned, now that I am home, is that I need to nurture and keep a little bit of Carol Solow inside of Carol Freedman, at all times. I would love to make it back to the Mini-Mart more often but if I can't, the Mini-Mart and reunion memories will live on long in my heart.
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