I went to a class reunion yesterday for my primary school class, grades 1 to 9. (Which actually only gave us 8 years together because in the middle of those years there was a school reform in Estonia that added one year to primary education, from 8 years to 9. So I never went to 5th grade.)
Last time I saw most of my classmates was 8 years ago, at another reunion. A few of them I haven’t seen since I graduated.
A few of them I wouldn’t have recognized if I had met them in the street; others are so similar to their 1st grade selves that any stranger could point them out in the class photo.
It is even more interesting to try to figure out how they have changed on the inside. (More difficult to observe, too, of course.) As with the faces, most are recognizable extrapolations of their school-age selves. Had someone told me 20 years ago that here is where this-and-this will end up in life, I would have nodded and said, yes of course, that figures, I can believe that. The quiet and studious teenager who now has a PhD; the poet’s son who has now published books of his own and studies history, etc.
Others surprise, with life and career choices that I wouldn’t ever have pictured. Which might well mean that I really didn’t know them as well as I thought.
With yet others I realize that despite our 8 years together I never knew them at all. I meet them now as strangers, effectively. Some of them have grown up into nice, interesting people, making me wish that we were not such strangers.
Two observations that, while not at all new, struck me with renewed force yesterday:
- Some people really are photogenic in a way that has nothing to do with being pretty or handsome. The way they hold their body and move around, the way their face and hands move, just looks good in a photo almost regardless of when I press the trigger. Others look awkward in photos without doing anything that looks or feels awkward in real life.
- Alcohol is such a natural part of all this events for so many people. I don’t think they could imagine a get-together without alcohol. As a non-drinker one is never specifically excluded, but as the hours pass, alcohol changes the discussions and the mood in such a way that excluding oneself becomes… well, not inevitable, and not the only option, but the only comfortable option.