A few years back I joined Facebook, mostly because I was coming out of retirement and thought one of my first plunges should be into social media. Get my name back out there to all the readers who thought I had fallen off the edge of the earth. There were hundreds of comments about my retirement…which was true at the time…and eight years was a long time to be off a reader’s radar.
For a while, like everyone else, I tried to post a comment every day or so on Facebook letting people know I was still alive and kicking, mentioning that I was reissuing my backlist books and returning to pen and paper to write new books. I never quite got to the point where I was telling folks what I had for breakfast or how to cook the perfect perogie (I left that for my blog *snort*) but it was fun on rainy days to search around and see who else was doing the social media thing. Authors, yes. I found many many of my old buddies with pages and happily connected to them all. I found friends and neighbours and relatives and discovered that yes, it is an easy way to stay in touch and share interesting tidbits of information. It was also a way for readers to find me and connect and ask questions (yes, the fourth Dante book is coming, but as ever, I work very slowwwwwwly and rushing a sea battle would be like…well…rushing a sea battle)
Every now and then I would try to look up REALLY old friends. Usually after a party where some goofy memory had surfaced and an incident was shared that had everyone in stitches. I’d sit in the mornings and nurse a hang…er…a coffee and type in some names to see if they were on Facebook too.
One such morning, I found a really familiar name and sent him a message asking if he was the same Brent H who went to Scarlet Heights Collegiate. I didn’t hold out much hope, and I didn’t get an answer for a few days, but lo and behold….I eventually did get a reply and yes, it was the same Brent H I went through five years of high school with. After we finished gasping and ooo-ing and ahh-ing that we’d found each other alive and well after 40-something years, he went on to give me a couple of other names of our group with whom he’d kept in touch or found via Facebook. Naturally I *friended* the ones who were online and was amazed and as giggly as a schoolgirl when they replied and messaged and phoned and the laughs picked up just where we left them.
Fast forward a year and seven of us actually managed to arrange a mini-reunion, with five diehards (aka biggest troublemakers *grin*) stretching it out to three days. Two could only make it the first day for a couple of hours, but it was great seeing them and catching up on 40-something years of “so what did you end up doing after high school?”
Corrinne H was the hostess. She lives on a lovely, quiet lake just north of Lindsay. She was always a bit of a wild child in high school, the only one I knew who thought nothing of hitchhiking wherever she wanted to go. As it turns out, she’s lived and worked in Africa, in France, in China, and half a dozen other places that made my envy quotient skyrocket. Put her in a granny dress, make a peace symbol, and tuck a groovy flower in her hair and she hasn’t changed much. She lives totally green, wastes nothing, and thinks 71 degrees is “really refreshing” for pool water on a hot day.
Chris B had stated in our grade 13 yearbook that he planned to become an architect, and that was what he did. He lives here in Toronto still, and works on renovating and restoring historic landmark buildings, among other things. His ears perked when I mentioned I had bought a 130yr old Victorian house, and I suspect we’ll be having more conversations down the line *g*. He was in the process of moving his offices into a new building so he couldn’t stay much past dinner. Neither could Marion F, who I didn’t really know all that well in school…I think our home rooms only matched up once…but she and Corrinne have kept in touch over the years and she certainly had her fair share of reminiscences to impart over the course of a few short hours LOL.
Dougie. Ahh Dougie. Slightly geeky and extremely scholarly in school (a member of the chess club, for heaven’s sake, while the rest of us were wrapping lecturns in toilet paper) always thinking a step ahead of the rest of us, equally quick to propose an idea then stand back and watch the rest of us get in trouble. Loved analyzing people even then, so no wonder he turned out to be a psychologist. His head exploded a few times around the campfire as the rest of us were trying to solve the world’s problems, and I suspect by the end of the three days he had all of us categorized and marked “nonredeemable”. I treasured him as a friend back in school and it seemed, in a blink of an eye, all those years were wiped away and he was still the Dougie I knew.
Frank A was the strong silent type in school, and another braniac…math club for him, sheesh. He never said much while the rest of us were cavorting around tormenting teachers and plotting ways to skip class, but he seemed to always be in the thick of it anyway. He had a dry, dry sense of humour and sometimes you had to think about what he said for an hour or so before you realized he was either praising or insulting someone. I confess to having had a crush on him at one point…maybe because I didn’t know how to stay quiet and I was always getting in trouble. Or maybe it was the blond hair…his, not mine. LOL. He moved to Minnesota where he’s working on all kinds of computer-related smart-guy stuff that I can’t even begin to comprehend. He came to the reunion with a cool plastic case for his phone that he made with a 3-D printer with gears that spun and twirled. He also dazzled us with theories and predictions of wondrous inventions to come that exploded all of our heads. (He also dazzled us with the startling pure whiteness of his legs!!! Those legs hadn’t seen sun since high school…and I’m not sure I ever recall seeing him in shorts back then either!)
And then there was Brent, who started the reunion ball rolling. After high school he went to Royal Military College and became an officer in the Navy, where he stayed for 25 yrs or so. He lives in Nova Scotia and by gar, talks like a frikken Easterner now, but we shared enough laughs and stories to make up for it. *s* So many of my fondest memories of school involved Brent in some way or another. Great buddies then, we picked up right where we left off, except for the singing part. He was determined to get us all singing around the campfire but he kept singing songs none of us knew, despite the vast quantities of wine and rum that were consumed. And can a navy man hold his rum? Hmmm. Apparently not when you mix it with bottles of sangria and half a dozen bottles of white wine. At some point during the first evening he claimed an invisible dwarf snuck up behind him and whacked him with a 2 X 4, sending him face down and snoring on the sofa at the stroke of midnight. The second night, after a trip to town to replenish liquid supplies, he kept a wary eye out for the dwarf and avoided him until nearly 4am! Huz-zah!
As for me, I listened a lot and laughed a lot and felt all those years just melt away. We kept thinking of other names of other buddies and friends and wondered what they were up to. I couldn’t believe that Brent flew in from NS and Frank flew in from Minnesota and Dougie gave up valuable clinical time so we could all sit around a camp fire and share our lives, but it was a fabulous three days. Just fabulous.
Frank has volunteered…or *was* volunteered to host us all next summer so we’re going to have to get some song sheets before then. I’ll be burning candles in the honorary *Mateus Rose* Reunion bottle so it looks appropriately coated in wax drippings, and I hope Brent brings more of that fantastic smoked salmon.
I know some people dread high school reunions, but man, this one was terrific and I’m looking forward to the next one.