For Writer’s Island prompt #12 reunion
Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.
I have a real thing about words, if you haven’t noticed. Love playing with them, tearing them apart, following them just to see where it all might end. But then, there are certain words that turn me off or, make me want to turn away in outright rejection. Although I have written about that reality, I have come to understand that the ones that turn me off are often the very avenues I need to explore a bit further, opening myself up to what lies behind that decidedly negative emotional response.
I did that a few weeks ago (right here), and ended up with a rather pleasant short fiction story that was fun to write, and surprised me more than anyone who might have read it. That was a phrase, not just one word. And I knew, when I saw it, that I simply didn’t want to travel down paths that I had already written about. Once I changed the common context of the phrase, I was off on a brand new adventure. One I thoroughly enjoyed.
I am beginning to think that the prompter of the Writer’s Island prompts, has somehow gotten into my skull and found all those taboo words that bring on a blank spaced expression to my face, or a decidedly turned away shoulder. But these prompts have been such a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration that I’ve taken to glancing back over that turned away shelf of flat hard rock I-don’t-want-to-do-this response.
So, today I went shopping. Not in any retail establishment, I don’t go there unless I must, and for very different reasons. I can’t afford it. When I saw the word reunion, I bulked, went blank and all of my thoughts turned a particularly dead shade of gray.
This isn’t a taboo word, the kind that one forbids oneself from ever even thinking about. For me, it’s more innocuous, lacking stimulation or interest. Thus the dull gray reaction. But, reaction is a very interesting word, one that means going back, revisiting something experienced or felt in the past. Actually a bit like a reunion of sorts. A re-meeting with a feeling response that one has already been through, and depending on that original experience, one acts in accordance with either pleasure or something more negative.
Reaction precludes deliberate choice of action. In other words, the reaction steps in before one can actually decide to act in a different or new manner. And, because I don’t like, what I refer to as a gag response, I went shopping in the Dictionary and the Thesaurus. I was looking for another way to see and think about the word itself, searching for a new pair of jeans because the old ones had holes in them and big gray stains.
I found something: the quote which begins this essay. I like the word resurrection. It speaks of life brought back, renewed and changed. But, it also made me recognize some of the reasons for my not so kind reaction to the word reunion. There are definitely places in my life I would prefer never be resurrected. I think all of us have those types of places or periods within our memories.
The most common reunions are those of family and of high school. I’ve done both and had mixed revues. I and a cousin, in the course of an evening over drinks, decided to host a family reunion several years ago. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but many ideas hatched over a few drinks seem that way, don’t they?
What it was, was a hell of a lot of work. Our grandparents had nine children and those nine children were not at all shy about reproducing. We ended up renting a park, with pavilion, that was located on the shoreline. It really was great fun. We had people coming from all over the states, games for the kiddies and the adults, a song fest after dark, and one cousin who enthusiastically told me that I “really knew how to throw a hell of a party, and when was I going to do it again?”
My response was, “As soon as I can find three or four fools who want to do all the work, so I can sit back, relax, and enjoy it as much as you did.” I did enjoy it, but… That same cousin, the one of the evening over drinks, approached me at my Mother’s funeral and asked if I would even consider doing it again. I asked her if she’d found the three or four fools necessary, and said that I’d be more than willing to make suggestions, would certainly attend, and encourage everyone else to do so.
A much younger, perhaps foolish cousin, overheard our conversation and said she’d be very interested in trying it. She didn’t have a drink in her hand, and I’m still waiting for the invitation. It might be a while.
The high school reunion was a different matter. I’d lived away for almost forty years when the invitation arrived for my 45th reunion. I was back in the city of my birth, had no contacts other than family, and would have to attend alone. Daunting? Yes, but I decided I had to start somewhere. I went, only vaguely recognized faces that had melted just as much as my own. Was reintroduced to several people, enjoyed the dinner and loved the music, but left early.
Our class was a large one and the last to graduate in the school auditorium. The Reunion committee had hit upon a different sense of reunion. To grease the wheels, they offered a casual get-together every six months in a local restaurant, and had been doing it for a number of years. I decided to attend that more casual affair as well. And what I found was the same sort of cliques that were alive in high school. Cliques I had avoided while a teen-ager, crossing boundaries as it suited me and largely at whim.
Arriving at the restaurant, I watched those groups coalesce, smiles or nods only to those outside of one’s own group, and the left-overs, like me. There is another casual gathering coming up in two months and I have yet to decide if I will actually attend, or opt for one of the poetry groups that meet at the library or a local cafe. But then there is also the local extension of the University I attended. There, I can take classes without tuition because I am a former graduate.
The choices are still mine, but the high school reunions allowed me to get my feet wet and take that first step. That step toward social resurrection, and that’s not a bad idea, nor is it at all a gray one, nor determined by a few drinks. I really like the word resurrection, especially because it means a reunion with a new and different me. A me that would like to thank the Writer’s Island prompter for his prompts. Whew!