Younger Than Yesterday
The countdown begins. Five days until my 40th(!) high school class reunion. Now those thoughts of regret begin to creep in again, and not just in the middle of the night during a bad dream of the past. There are a million things to regret, although most of them, taken separately are too inconsequential to matter much. It is the combined weight of all of them which can be summed up as: "Why were we so mean to each other then?" Not necessarily overtly cruel or hurtful, although there was plenty of that. Rather it was the little snubs and put-downs, the cliques and castes, and the fear of being different which kept us apart.
We were just kids.
And living in a dream world, which changed dramatically in April of our senior year, when Martin Luther King was assassinated. And then it was Bobby Kennedy, right after our graduation. Nixon's escalation of the war, then Kent State shootings, and the dream was dying. With Nixon's reelection, cynically playing on class divisions, the dream died. And so it goes, right up to the current political scene.
So, in looking back at high school through that 'glass' darkly, I guess it wasn't so bad. We did, for the most part, get along, although a virulent streak of sadistic sexism was, as it always is, present. We were even becoming racially integrated, albeit imperfectly, until the King assassination, but at least it was something. And we did rise above our backgrounds, if only a little.
Saturday night I will see many of my classmates again. Not the widest representation, but those who will attend want to be there. And now, in our late middle age, the differences we once found so dividing have lessened. "I went to my reunion but there were just a bunch of old people there..." is how the joke goes.
That joke is on us and I, for one, will laugh.
A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
Equality, I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.
~Bob Dylan, My Back Pages