Y’tis the the season for school reunions. School reunions are complicated angst ridden affairs; the stuff of movies like the Big Chill, Peggy Sue Got Married, Peter’s Friends and more. Have you lived up to the title of “most likely to succeed” that was bestowed on you many moons ago? Or are you now the one “most likely to wear a bathrobe to the store?” Will you go?
I attended a communist school on the banks of the Crum creek in Pennsylvania. The Nixon administration referred to it as the “Kremlin on the Crum” and sent FBI agents to spy on the professors. The nominally Quaker school graduates about 300 subversives every year, among them a smattering of Nobel laureates, politicians, teachers, and a Democratic presidential candidate with splendidly bushy eyebrows and a wife prone to drinking eau de cologne.
I liked Swarthmore College.
In my first year I even attended a peace rally, holding hands with people of dubious personal hygiene and singing “we shall overcome.” Mostly, I was trying to impress the rather lovely woman who organised the march. When she volunteered to get arrested, I snuck out and got stoned at a Grateful Dead concert instead.
I was well on my way to becoming a sandal wearing, tree hugging, hirsute, bleeding heart liberal. Sadly I was forced to leave the left wing for tax reasons.
I did attend my school reunion – and loved it. I found that the old left/right divide amongst my classmates is no longer relevant; we have more in common with each other than with any other group of people we’ve met since graduation. I enjoyed breaking bread and making cocktails for my classmates. Even vegans can drink martinis I discovered, as long as they are made from organic, sustainably grown ingredients, harvested in a non exploitative fashion, preferably in a Buddhist collective. I think most alcohol is made that way these days anyway, and after the second martini no one really cares.
I found myself in awe of my classmates, many of whom appear to have achieved more in life than ending up writing a cocktail blog. There were the inevitable attempts to reprise youthful exploits – with mixed results. The spirit was mostly willing but the flesh wasn’t quite up for it. The all night poker party was fun but we all fell asleep before the cards were dealt. We were quite proud when the police arrived to investigate another one of our parties – although they were only responding to reports of screaming when someone broke a rather special bottle of 20 year old Japanese whisky.
For those of you who aren’t sure about attending a reunion – go! Your classmates know the real you; and the person you are now has a lot to do with them, and to your shared experience. If any one of you is considering sending their child to a small liberal arts college in the United States – come talk to me. I know of a rather special place.