That’s me on my first day of boarding school, a highly unusual place for a Jewish girl from Long Island to have ended up. It was 1980 and I was 16, clearly with absolutely no interest in impressing anyone with the way I dressed. None of my former classmates can remember what that number means but clearly I look very happy to be holding it. And see that mole above my nose? In my college yearbook picture the photographer found it so distracting that it was airbrushed out. I guess that was a not-so-subtle hint that it was kind of ugly. It has since been removed.
This coming weekend is my 30th reunion at the magnificent Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts. I’ve written about the circuitous route that plunked me there in my size 16, purple Gloria Vanderbilt corduroys and floor-length purple down coat, landing in a world where people looked like this:
Our school didn’t have wicker with pillows and it didn’t look like a plantation, but it is still one of the most beautiful places I have ever spent two years.
Clusters of us have been there for other reunions, the last being our 25th, and every single time, every five years of catch-up, have left me beaming and in awe of what these people have become. “Boys” in khakis with ducks on them have grown into bankers, realtors and hedge fund managers. “Girls” in pink chinos are women with equally impressive careers living in fabulous homes, wearing, well, not wearing pink chinos. The men who are holding down corporate jobs still get together to see concerts of the splintered Grateful Dead, and the women, those of us who didn’t really know each other all that well while there, have developed adult relationships through visits, phone calls and facebook.
15 years ago I remember ducking behind a dorm to smoke pot out of a Coke can. This year, without any pot smoking (for me anyway), I’ll be singing Crosby, Stills and Nash Songs with a former classmate who gets more handsome by the second. A year ago he was in town and while driving in his large and impressive SUV, we put on our old favorites and still sang in flawless harmony that gave me goosebumps. My daughter and husband will hear me sing with someone for the first time and he’s already told me how nervous he is. If I look good that night, perhaps I’ll use my phone to videotape it.
Those of us who have them will be bringing our spouses and children and I have this fantasy that my daughter will fall in love with the son of the first boy I every truly loved (he loved me back, “as a friend.”) I’ve already told her about him and how he’s a little younger, but she said, “Well, he’s not THAT much younger,” and was totally open to the concept. She’s 10 and I think he’s 8. The kids will have an awesome time together, staying up extra late for a party on Friday night and then roaming around the school the next day, seeing the teeny rooms we shared with roommates we loved (well, I loved mine and I’m devastated that she can’t be there this year). I’ll show my husband the town we used to go to, what has become very fancy-pants and as I say, used to consist of a laundromat, Planned Parenthood and a Rite-Aid. Now, there are sushi restaurants and boutiques that get mention in the New York Times. Outsiders have discovered “God’s Country.”
In 3 weeks I’ll be going to the 4th “Jews Gone Wild” weekend at the site of my old summer camp. If you haven’t had the pleasure, read this: http://mylifeinthemiddleages.blogspot.com/2010/06/jews-gone-wild-phase-1.html
In September, there’s a third, yet ANOTHER 30th high school reunion of where I spent the first year and half of high school. That’s a different story for another time, but in so many ways, that is bound to be the most remarkable of them all.