We’re going to a reunion this summer, a three-day fest on the Rhine gathering together former employees and spouses of Hong Kong’s German-Swiss International School. My wife was a teacher there in the early nineties, had been for three years before I landed in early 1994, got a job, found a girlfriend, broke up, met K, moved in, married her, had our daughter, quit my job and then moved to Germany.
Along the way I met many of her colleagues, some of whom we’re still friends with after all these years. Looking over the list the other day of those slated to attend, we smiled and said how much we were looking forward to seeing many people who up to now have existed only in that place and time we filled before moving on.
There are at least a half-dozen I want to have a long catch-up with. One of K’s girlfriends back in the day will I hope recall an incident barely a week after I’d started going out with K. The three of us were at a bar somewhere up near The Peak and Karin was wearing a dress that showed off that great figure she still has. When K went off to get some drinks I turned to her friend and said something like, “damn, she looks fantastic, doesn’t she?” She gave me this horrified look and spat back, “WHAT did you say?” With the loud music and her not understanding English very well, she thought I was making a pass at her the moment K’s back was turned.
But as much as I’m looking forward to the reunion, there’s a certain dread about it too. Not that I might feel like an outsider, because I do know a lot of the people. It’s just that I know exactly what’s going to happen. If you’ve ever been to a high school reunion, you know the drill.
Not long after you arrive you’ll see the people you’ve been thinking about all these years and you’ll rush over and greet them. After the first excitement of recognition has blown by you’ll have the catch-up gab, the what-you-doing-now where-you-been-in-the-meantime chat, the great-to-see-you-again tap on the arm for good measure when you go refill your drink.
It will go on like that until someone gets up to make a speech or the buffet is served. With any luck the food will be decent and drinks flowing. By now you’ll have coalesced into groups you used to hang out with ‘way back when, avoiding those you don’t know or only had a superficial relationship with.
The evening will be a pleasant one and it will all end a bit too soon. If there are events the next day and evening, you’ll enjoy them, basking in the memories and nostalgia which, if the atmosphere is right, will come in bunches.
As the last event draws to a close and everyone drifts off saying their final farewells, there will be hugs and shoulder shakes and thumps on the back, cards swapped, telephone numbers, email, website and blog addresses scribbled on the back of napkins or scraps of paper, and sincere looks exchanged as you look each other in the eye and say, “It’s been so much fun to see you again after all these years. We must keep in touch.”
But you know what? You won’t.
EDIT and update: It was a great time and we’re looking forward to the next one. Really, it was wonderful.