I walked into the room, and I have to admit I was a bit nervous as to whether I would recognize anyone. Some of these people I had seen recently on Facebook or at the pub the night before. But some of them I hadn’t seen in at least 15 years, if not the full 35 since I graduated from Housatonic Valley Regional High School (Housy, for those in the know.)
Of course the ubiquitous name tags were on the table right inside the door. They had our names and our pictures from the yearbook. Having pictures taken is not my favorite activity and for some reason, this one made me look particularly snooty looking. As if I couldn’t be bothered to smile, it would just be too much work. Oh well.
I had a plan to talk to everyone and anyone, not to just be pulled to the people with whom I had hung out. I even had a line to say that might get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, this plan was quickly discarded the minute I went up to a group of three woman. After saying hello and waiting through an extra long pause, I decided to excuse myself and go say hi to someone I knew much better. I felt guilty for a brief moment but rationalized it with the fact that a reunion is not really the place to make new friends.
So instead, I connected with old friends. And there was a certain relief in finding my “tribe” amidst all the people there. (I think there were about 60 people but I could be wrong). I should explain a bit, Housy is what they call a regional high school. In other words, it serves several towns which have their own grade schools but bus all their students from their towns to the high school. If you ask me where I grew up I am likely to say SalisburyLakevilleLimeRockCanaanSharonKentCornwallFallsVillage. So I went to high school with people from all of those towns.
But I am most comfortable with the people from Salisbury Central School, many of whom I have known since I was five…and maybe even younger. One woman’s father was our mailman and she is now the town clerk. One woman and I took dance classes together all throughout grade school and our fathers live two doors down from each other at the retirement center. One woman works for my father’s attorney. One woman’s father was the English teacher at the high school and went on to become the principal. You get the picture, small town connections are pretty close, even if you no longer live there.
This weekend has made me think about tribe more carefully. You can find tribes anywhere, school, church, organizations, family, sports stadiums…and you can belong to many different tribes at once. Just look at the back of any car in the parking lot and you are likely to find out what tribe the owner belongs to. But sometimes, just sometimes, a tribe is one that you don’t have to join, because you are already a life-long member.
To be totally honest, I don’t feel the need to connect with many of my high school tribe on a regular basis. But it is always good to know that if I walk into a room full of them, I will be greeted with a big smile and a hug. And that is a good feeling.