Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reunion Weekend

I had the pleasure of spending Saturday evening into Sunday at my alma mater’s annual Reunion celebration. Although it is only my 24th year out of college, my three best college friends—with whom I roomed during my sophomore and their junior years—were attending their 25th jubilee. I was also honored to be a guest presenter there and had the pleasure of speaking to a dozen or so women from the class of ’59, one of whom is the mother of a friend here in the Village. I spoke about the Murder 101 series and these wonderful women restored my belief in my own public speaking skills.

Here’s the thing—I bomb with some groups. There have been several presentations I’ve given where I’ve laughed at my own jokes in front of a room of people who looked like they had come to attend the annual Mortuary Science convention. They do not find my jokes funny, my stories amusing, nor me laughing at my own jokes and/or stories at all humorous. I’ve given a few of these lackluster presentations in a row and was starting to lose faith in myself.

But the class of ’59 was a game crowd. This was a group of extremely interested, mystery-loving women. They ate up everything there was to be heard about Alison Bergeron and the books in the series. And they laughed where you were supposed to laugh and even some places where you weren’t. But that’s ok. Rather have laughing than the alternative.

It was a gorgeous weekend here on the East Coast and my alma mater sits on the Hudson River. The Half Moon was sailing past the college just about the time that I was presenting so many reunion goers went out to see it so as not to miss what turned out to be quite a spectacle. (See here for details and some nice pictures of the replica of Henry Hudson’s ship) Being a huge fan of the Hudson—I’ve lived near it my entire life and enjoyed its beauty—I didn’t mind that I had been ditched in favor of the historic flotilla that sailed past the college and toward my home town, where it sailed past Sunday morning. Missed that one, too.

The girls and I spent Saturday afternoon walking around campus, marveling at how little had changed but also at the improvements that had been made. We had some champagne to celebrate our annual weekend together and then a cosmopolitan right before the dinner dance we were to attend that evening. Before heading over to the dining hall, we ventured into the beautiful chapel—where many key scenes from the movie “Doubt” were filmed—and drank in the smell of bees’ wax, floor polish, and incense. It was there that I got a little overwhelmed, thinking about the four of us, the time that had passed, and the struggles we had gone through. When I told my friends what I was thinking, one of the four, my gal Trixie, turned to me and said, “You’re cut off.” (My reputation as a weepy imbiber is legendary among this crew.)

It’s amazing how after a quarter decade it can feel as if no time has passed. At the same time, it can feel like almost twice that time has passed. It’s a weird conundrum. We had a great time at the dinner dance, dancing among graduates going as far back as the class of ’39—ok, maybe they weren’t dancing, but they were there—and meeting new people with whom we shared the bond of being “Mounties” (our college nickname). The camaraderie that existed among women much older than we are impressed me and again, made me weepy. Seeing women who had cultivated the bonds of friendship over the course of thirty, forty, and even fifty years was impressive indeed. We all have different histories and backgrounds but our love of our friends, and the school that brought us together, will keep us together forever.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. hats - you forgot the hats!

  2. What a lovely blog. Glad that the weekend was wonderful, and I would have been weepy too.

    I head off to my informal college reunion at the end of June. Our group of 8 has scattered far and wide, we have taken different paths in life, and yet we remain friends for the same reasons we found each other all those many years ago.


  3. The reunion I remember best was the 50 year one we had at my house for our 6th grade class. Six women and their spouses and two men, one with, one without. When they first began arriving they all looked so old--but the years quickly slipped away.

    We had dinner at my house and watched tapes made from old movies of our grammar school years. Those attending to to see their young mom all dressed up including hats. Our school celebrated everything and we had endless parades so there was ample opportunity for seeing themselves and each other in all sorts of costumes and at different ages.

    The next day we had brunch at my house then toured Springville--most were from big cities and they were amazed at the quaintness of our mountain community. That evening we all gathered for dinner at the Springville Inn.

    Breakfast near the hotel where they'd all stayed was our last get-together. I smiled so much that weekend my cheeks ached.