Monday, July 27, 2015

Through The Looking-Glass…40 years later


Jeanne Marie
'Jean'
Favorite Saying:
Friendship is a horizon which expands as you approach it.
Ambition:
To discover the life of the mind, pursue wisdom,
and to take a place in the world.
 
1975

Yes, my friends, that is me, a turtleneck kind of girl, sporting a classic high school yearbook pose in 1975. Have you looked at your teenage self recently? Earlier in the month, I took the plunge and went to my first ever high school reunion. Looking at my high school yearbook was the first step in my backwards journey.


It's been years since I dusted off the pages and when I did I had to laugh…blogging was not even a figment of anyone's imagination back then but clearly it was in mine. My 'favourite Saying' and life 'Ambition' smack of all that that has spilled into my keyboard and onto the pages of Collage of Life these past five years.  My friendship horizon is still expanding and I am still in search of finding my place in the world…I should probably be VERY concerned that at 57 I am still writing like my 17 year old self. We will not delve to deeply into the looking-glass on that one, for I am afraid of what I might discover. ;)

As for the reunion, it was a night to remember but getting there did not come easy. I debated this topic a while back here. I missed them all, the previous reunions that appeared on the calendar every five years. Some were missed by choice and most others were due to living overseas. But truth be told, I never felt endeared to the idea of returning. Why step back when we spend so much time looking forward? I can go on and on with every imaginable reason for not going but then suddenly I felt compelled to go. It felt like an unfinished chapter in a book that needed to be written.

In my usual fashion, I was off to a late start the night of the event and barely had time to get ready. I grabbed a hairbrush, pinched the cheeks, added a dash of lipstick, a spray of perfume, threw on the summer whites, my Vietnamese caftan, a few necklaces, bracelet, earrings, silk scarf, sandals and flew out the door for pre-reunion drinks with friends. One hour later, I walked through the front door of the local American Legion Hall into what ended up being three hours of hugs, screams, laughter and dancing. The same string of words were on everyone's lips throughout the night..

You haven't changed a bit.
What have you been doing for the past 40 years?
Do you know who that was?
What ever happened to…?
Who did we just talk to?
Do you remember…?
What was that person's name?
I remember when…
I wish I could remember his or her name….
Do you remember me?

I wonder if this was the same line of conversation 
for the 20th and 30th reunions?
;)

Here is what I learned to be true…

In many ways, we hadn't changed at all and it was lovely to see. Having just looked at our high school yearbook, I was struck by how similar everyone looked to their teenage selves. There were no dramatic changes or discoveries…you discounted the obvious features distinguishing age and looked beyond. My assessment was that we were all ageing gracefully. 

It was fascinating to hear people sum up the past forty years of their lives. Their jobs, families and most importantly, their hopes and dreams for the future. In hindsight, I wished I had put on my old Yearbook Editor hat and noted everyone's aspirations for the upcoming years. It is on my list for the next reunion.

I love the photo below, it is everything a photo should not be, blurry with people looking anywhere but the camera but one truth is evident, their was joy and laughter and even though forty years had passed, once connected again, it was as if time had stood still, in laughter.  In my books, life doesn't get any better than that. 


I tried to sneak out of the shot but they caught me.
Spot the purple scarf.


In the name of ageing gracefully , I decided to do something to mark the occasion. I came across sunglasses in a shop that I once owned in 1986 (my thirty something self, below). Long out of fashion, they seem to be making a comeback..or so I was told by the sales person. My daughter, wise one that she is, felt that they "were me"…so I bought them and I plan to rock them...again.

Me…1988.

I was hoping to show a recent pic of me (really) but a funny thing happened this week. I went in for dental surgery and came out looking like a chipmunk on steroids….and then some. Why I tried on sunglasses in this state of metamorphosis is another matter. I reckon it can only get better…right?


So how about you?
Are you in, out or over high school reunions?
Have you looked at your high school self recently?
Have you brought any fashions from the past back into your life, 
just because you can?

My favourite part 
about striding 
through my fifties
 towards my sixties
is that anything goes.
Because I say so. 
:)


Sending Happy Stylish Thoughts your way…

Jeanne xx


27 comments:

  1. Your wonderful post makes reunions not seem so scary.
    Reunion ambition has yet to capture my attention. But, I still have sunglass and a jacket I wore in high school. One fits, and the other doesn't. :)

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    1. Thank you Maywyn…and I am impressed, you kept your sunglasses and jacket! There are a few accessories I wished I had held onto…what has surprised me is that my style has not changed too much..but maybe that should worry me. ;)

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  2. Jeanne, I recently attended my 50th high school reunion, which was even more momentous than my 40th, which was also enjoyable; but the 50th was great. Gone were the groups that were still reluctant to expand beyond their high school friendships at the 20th and 30th reunions. We had a fabulous and industrious reunion committee, who decided to reacquaint everyone a year in advance by establishing a facebook page for our class alone. They were diligent about trying to "find" everyone and kept everyone in the loop, regardless of whether they were on facebook, only had an email address, or required written monthly correspondence. At the reunion, people were embracing each other, not so much concerned what someone did for a living, but more about how they were. For us, it was a weekend reunion (Atlantic City, NJ) and no one wanted it to end. Those of us who live locally enough to gather together, now do; others are always in touch on facebook. I, initially, had the same reluctance you felt, but was so happy I overcame my doubts. I learned it's not about "going back", as I originally thought, it's about remembering from whence we came, and how far we've traveled to be who we are. Lovely post, Jeanne. Angela Muller

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    1. Thank you Angela…so interesting to read your story and you are so right, "it's about remembering from whence we came, and how far we've traveled to who we are." Just love that! :)

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  3. This comes at an interesting tI'm for me. Have never been to a HS reu ion, altho I go very regularly to college reunions. What I think it boils down to is that I was so unComfortable and trying so hard to fit in, that I always felt like I was playing a part. In college I finally felt whole and could start over 500 miles from home and be Me.2.

    There were only three people that I truly liked, and I am in Contact with the two still living, and I don't have any interest in seeing the others, or trYing to walk the line between who they know and who I am, so... am not going this time either. In a way I would like to go for anhour, but don't want to be stuck for two ďays of events. Not as courageous as you.

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    1. I hear you Webb, especially with high school, there tends to be a lot of ' emotional baggage', much in part to the stage of life we are in when we pass through HS. Throw in a few tumultuous teenage years and there would be good reason to leave it behind. I forgot about college, I haven't been to a college reunion either. In part because I spent my four years at two different colleges. It was like an expat experience…not quite long enough to develop a deep bond. One woman walked the same path, we were roomates and are still in touch. I think Angela's last comment above (Cleo from Jersey) is insightful. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts…I totally get it. :)

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  4. Your high school picture is really beautiful, Jeanne.
    I believe it was maybe my 30th reunion, late 1990's, that a girl (we're still all girls to me) who had been a fairly close friend of mine, but whom I hadn't seen in many years, walked up to me and said, that's a Liz Claiborne dress you have on, isn't it? And I thought, my, what an interesting life you must lead. Later in the evening her husband confirmed that she didn't work, had a very leisurely life, no children, and spent a good bit of time shopping, etc. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed the reunions I have gone to, particularly after we were all a bit older, maybe grandparents, experienced a bit of travel, and there not to appraise each other, but remember some of our good times in high school. Then it becomes a bit melancholy once you reach the point where a few have passed away since the last reunion. All in all, it can be a great experience, particularly if you like to travel down memory lane and don't care if Peggy Sue has put on all those pounds from having had so many babies. Glad you enjoyed yours! :-)

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    1. Thanks Judy…had to laugh about your Peggy Sue comment! I think you are right, the conversations shift as we move through life, much like the stages we go through with college graduations, weddings, births and so on. When getting together with people you have not seen for such a long time, it is fun to hear what their children are doing but more importantly, it is interesting to hear how they are feeling about life. I have friends of all ages, younger and older, and we all seem to be crossing different paths, in a sense we support each other. Attending a reunion with so many people my own age, ones that walked out the same door with me forty years ago and walked back in to share their story..I just loved that part. Had I been a regular reunion attendee it might have been different..deep thinker that I am, I like to think of the possibilities. Just wish I had more time to do it! Hope you are well Judy, best to you from sunny New Hampshire. ;)

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  5. Hello Jeanne

    I loved reading about your reunion and the photo is fabulous and shows the fun and connectedness of your group. I have not been to a high school re-union I have attended work related reunions and they are always both uplifting and also sad when one hears the fate of some we knew
    I love your style

    Helen xx

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    1. Thank you Helen…I think if we were to connect one day (and I hope we do) we would have so much to talk about! Kindred spirits….I can just feel it. Maybe one day…at Tahilla Farm..with an easel. ;)

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    2. Hello Jeanne,

      I would absolutely love to sit with you at Tahilla and chat away the hours. I will hold that thought and may our paths cross soon.
      Helen xx

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  6. I have never been.........long story two schools!But I have a friend who is at hers NOW !!Will send this on to HER.........I think she will enjoy your BLOG AS WELL!I would NEVER had picked YOU out in the photo!!!!!!!!!Thanks for the purple scarf HINT!ALL GOOD your hair is longer then photos you share with us thats why!!!XOXO

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    1. Thanks Contessa….I always try to step out of a photo, wish I had that natural comfort in front of the lens that you do! It's a gift! Went to the salon to have my hair cut this week…time for a change. :)

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  7. Jeanne

    This was so much fun to read. I came from a small town in Indiana. I tried to take my children back there (when they were small) because I wanted them to know what it was like growing up somewhere where everyone looked out for everyone else. Hence, I made many of my reunions. I always enjoyed them immensely. My parents are both out here so I don't have the excuse to go back as much. I do always enjoy how some things never change. I am so glad you had so much fun!!

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    1. Thank you Cindy! What a wonderful gift to share with your children…your childhood. We are fortunate to still have family in the area and have made a point of always spending a few weeks each summer in the area to develop a connection. So easy, to let those connections slip away when you live overseas (or another state). Like you, we made the effort…and I am so glad that we did. :)

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  8. P.S I graduated in 1973..your hs pic looks like mine!!

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    1. It was definetly a 'look'…or..the photographer looked at me and thought "good grief, what are we going to do about that nose!" ;)

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  9. In England we didn't have high school reunions - however once, when visiting my hometown, I happened across a scheduled reunion for people of the neighborhood I lived in as a young child after WWII. It was at our local pub - I went, met a lot of men and women whom I played with in the late 1940's - amazingly many of us remembered one another! I won the award for coming the longest distance - from North Carolina.
    You did and do look lovely Jeanne - and the photo IS perfect because everyone looks so happy together.
    Like those sunnies too!
    Mary -

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    1. Thank you Mary! I love your story and that you were able to connect who's who after all those years. A pub sounds like a much better place to have a reunion…might last the whole weekend! Hope you are well, I am due for a catch up to see where in the world you have been recently. I know you were off to someplace exciting last time.. :)

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  10. I went to my fortieth reunion last year. We had a great time. We were all happy to see one another, while the women looked pretty much the same, a lot of the men had really changed beyond recognition.

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    1. Interesting Marilyn, everyone looked pretty much the same with the exception of some going 'grey' earlier than others. Their were the obvious changes, we seem to all show them, it was nice to be part of the same crowd rather than the fifty someting in the forty something crowd which has been the case recently. Gald you enjoyed your reunion too! :)

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  11. I've never been one for high school reunions or reunions of any kind for that matter. I guess I'm one of those people who's happy to leave the past in the past though I must confess that I've enjoyed being reconnected with some old friends through Facebook.

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    1. Facebook opened the door to the idea of returning for me Linda…not sure if I would have otherwise. Amazing what a difference Facebook can make, for people who move about a lot, it is a life saver. Hope you are enjoing your days in Maine…loving the seaside photos. :)

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  12. O, the nostalgia and changes, gracefully.

    Beautiful then and now.

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    1. Always so kind. A gentleman. Thank you Edgar. ;)

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  13. Your reunion sounds wonderful. I went to one high school reunion and an old boyfriend insisted on kissing me:(. The one college reunion I went to was great though. Seems like courage is something we always need:).

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  14. I agree with the anything goes. If someone asks me to do something, I first stop due to just cuz, then shake my head and say,"Ok." Much thought has gone into the what might be ahead and I'm looking for it to be special. I've never been to a reunion. I was always somewhere else in the country when they took place, but I do keep in touch with a small group. As for looking at my photo in high school, I still feel like I look like that. At least until the woman standing in front of me hogs the mirror in the morning . I help her put herself together and, funny thing, never think of doing myself after helping her. Ha!
    Enjoyed your post.

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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