After reading Nina’s post (http://take-ninas-word-for-it.blogspot.fr) about why she attended her high-school reunion I gave some thought to the matter.
I know for sure that I would never go to any reunion of my high school, or grammar school, as it was known then. After all, the years I spent at Brondesbury and Kilburn High School for Girls are not among my fondest memories. One made the best of one’s time there, one made friends, only to drop them as soon as one’s time as a schoolgirl ended (except for Diana, of course), and one studied for exams and passed them to the best of one’s ability in order to go on to the next stage (university, in my case). Incipient anti-Semitism amongst both teachers and pupils, my slight build, which meant that I was not very good at team sports, and my inherently rebellious character meant that I would never make a model pupil. Most of the girls in my class wanted to be housewives, secretaries or missionaries anyway.
But when the university I attended, the London School of Economics, announced a forty-year reunion for those of us who had graduated in 1964, I made every effort to attend. I had lost contact with all those who had been my friends during my three years of attendance there, mainly because I had moved to another country, but I felt a strong bond to the establishment which had given me my real start in life, enabling me to find work in such respectable establishments as the Hebrew University and the Bank of Israel, amongst others.
I was intrigued by the reunion programme, which consisted of lectures by current professors at the university, debates and cocktail parties in the old buildings, tours of the new additions, and culminating in a gala dinner at the Houses of Parliament. I suppose I hoped to meet up with people I had known in the past and catch up on our various activities. My husband was kind enough to accompany me, and so we flew to London to attend the event.
At first it was somewhat overwhelming to see all those middle-aged and elderly people milling about in the area reserved for the first gathering. There were no familiar faces, and the only person I managed to speak to in order to ask what he’d been doing since graduating replied ‘I’ve had a steady rise to obscurity.’ You can’t beat that for a conversation-killer.
But at the second gathering I did at last spy a familiar face, someone with whom I had shared many cups of coffee between lectures. I went up to her and, fortunately, she recognised me immediately. There was another friend with her who had also been part of our coffee-drinking circle, and so we immediately went off together to sit and chat in one of the nearby cafés, catch up on what we had been doing and renew our connection.
Since then we three, plus one other friend who didn’t attend the reunion, have tried to meet once a year for lunch, whenever I happen to be in London, provided, that is, I give them all sufficient notice, because, like me, they also travel a fair amount. Everyone seems to have done reasonably well, combining both family and a career of sorts, though none of us has had the stellar rise that we might perhaps have once imagined for ourselves.
But I’m glad I went to the reunion and reestablished contact with my friends from the past, and I suppose, when all is said and done, having had a steady rise to obscurity isn’t such a bad thing after all. So thanks to Val, Jen and Di, and here’s to many more lovely lunches in London!