Now is later.
It's over four years later, and now I'm looking forward to the 20-year reunion (and I'm wondering how we're going to pay for a trip out there...) Grinnell is a magical place; there's something that brings out the best in people when you're there. Maybe it's the people entirely, I don't know. But so much inspiration is born there, in the conversations between old friends and new acquaintances.
I saw my old acting partner, Erika Krouse, and we bonded about writing. She's got a book out there to check out if you'd like-- it's called "Come Up and See Me Sometime" and is a compilation of short fiction organized around some Mae West quotes. At least, I think so. I still haven't read it, but my wife did and liked it. So there you have it.
I also spent time with some folks that I knew but didn't know well when we were in school together, and my wife and I had some nice, relaxed, flowing conversations with them about things such as other Grinnellians, permaculture, and parenting. I made a connection with another Grinnellian writer with one of the best blog names I've heard-- the parenting/mommy advice blog known as Breed 'em and Weep. And I saw old friends who still cause some trepidation and anxiety, in the form of old roommates. Well, okay. One roommate who is sometimes intellectually confrontational and makes me nervous. But he can be a great guy, he just makes me self conscious sometimes.
Reunions can be a very good thing. This one definitely was. There was renewal and rejuvenation. There was networking and positive connections. And there was fun. Laughter. Tears. Celebration.
I really can't wait for next year. My 43rd birthday and my 20th Grinnell reunion. And my 25th high school reunion. All good.
All things to look forward to.
Here's the article I wrote about the reunion that was published somewhere, I just don't know where. Irene? Can you hear me? Can you remind me what publication this went into? Thanks.
The evening began with dinner and an auction. Lots of friends that hadn’t seen one another in several years. And it ended with music reverberating in the collective ear.
After the meal everybody had pitched in and cleared the tables and chairs from the dance floor. Some of the folks with kids bid their adieu to honor set bedtimes. Those of us without kids (and some parents who had arranged for sitters, not to mention the mom or dad who won the coin toss while the other parent slinked back to the dorm, festooned with responsibility...) started gearing up to party.
We were sold the idea that a DJ would play music by request. But it soon became evident that Mr. DJ had another agenda. Not ones to settle for anything other than our own agenda, we hit the road. Some of us splintered off to investigate another party, an impromptu gathering in an alumnus’ refurbished Airstream trailer. A warm evening, hot tunes, and cold beer—Now, that’s a party. My wife and I sauntered between locales, dancing and drinking and chatting at both.
We soon learned of a third splinter group. Someone had checked for availability of another “party space” over at the Joe Rosenfeld Center. Others had secured tunes and amplification. Soon, there was sweat. There was dancing. There was thudding bass, stomping feet, and clapping hands. There were a number of, shall we say, aromas. And there was the open exploitation (y’know, fun being had) by all.
Sure, there was a great diversity displayed. Grinnellians ooze diversity. Some danced hard and fast, working up a sweat. Others bobbed and weaved near the amplification source. Still others stood on the outskirts of the room, taking turns leaning into each other’s ear as they tried to carry on conversation.
My wife and I danced a bit, but soon took to the hallway of the Joe (aka the JRC, or the “jerk”), where we could still hear the music and singing of the crowd, but could more easily speak to each other. We took to the couches and benches there with a handful of other friends and had a pot-luck conversation of sorts. Everybody brought something to the discussion.
We talked about what we had in common such that we found ourselves outside of the party room, choosing the cerebral exercise over the aerobic. Our buffet table was set with one part reminiscence, one part levity, one part reality-of-getting-older lament.
There were other parts too, of course. Beer drinking, wine sipping, joke telling, and problem solving. We talked about things we were still working on—me and my writing, and my still-yet-to-be-completed degree requirements. One woman in the group spoke about how she had conquered the beast of learning another language (the one thing left standing between me and my undergraduate degree). She said that it had become a necessity—a matter of survival, in fact. I suppose that’s what my problem has been—I’ve never bought in to the idea that I needed another language in my repertoire. But then, I’m oh-so comfy with the one I use daily... it gets in the way anytime I try and use something else in my mind. My English is the jealous sort, I guess.
By the end of the night, we’d partaken in plenty verbal entrees, laughed until the metaphorical milk ran out our noses, and seen plenty over-partying. We watched one couple stumble and giggle their way back to their room, taking time to chat with others along the way. We giggled heartily with them, and then at them, as they weaved away from us, for they were both of a physical age closer to my parents’.
Man, woman, and child of any gender. Overall, my reacquaintance with my Grinnell Experience was spectacular. Not like a Jerry Bruckheimer film, but a resonant, penetrating, rejuvenating sort of spiritual renewal. A molting of sorts. I had been in a depressed state before arriving at reunion, but I shed my sour skin of rigidity, the wheel-spinning frustration, and any bureaucratic entanglement. I lamented no more; I had returned to the womb, in a sense, and drank from the source that sustains life; the source which inspires, energizes, and heals; the source of focus.
And it was very good.
May we all party hearty and healthy well through our golden years.
editor's note: It looks like some of my earliest blog spilled into this article. All my content, so no plagiarism.