Saturday, 8 May 2010

Would you go to a

I have just been looking at someone else's blog and thinking about a conversation I had yesterday. The blog mentions going to a reunion and the conversation was about whether a friend should go to a reunion.
I have never been to a reunion. Reunions from my early childhood are unlikely to happen. We never lived anywhere long enough for anyone other than my younger sister to make a lasting friendship from childhood. There was also the small problem that my father was always the school teacher and, later, the headmaster. Other kids have more sense than to make friends with 'the head's kids'.
Even in late secondary school making friends did not happen. I was at my last school for just one year. By then friendships had been cemented. The students had common ground. I was, in more ways than one, an outsider. They were pleasant enough - most of the time - but they were not going to make friends.
My early tertiary education should perhaps have been different but, unlike the other students, I was not getting a government allowance. I had to support myself. That meant working as a junior housemistress in the rarefied atmosphere of another boarding school (which paid for board and lodging) and tutoring (pocket money for bus fares and essentials). The time left was for attending lectures (and you had to sign the attendance sheet for each lecture at my first tertiary institution - teacher training college) and doing the essential course work. I did not have much time to socialise.
I believe my college group may have had a reunion some time back but I was, perhaps fortunately, living in another country. I do not think I would have wanted to attend. I doubt I could have put names to faces - or faces to names. I also doubt we would have had much in common.
I was one of just two students who went on to university. I was still supporting myself. I still did not have much time but university was intellectually more challenging. I had grown up a bit more by then and was, cautiously, finding my way. It helped that I was on the other side of the world by then.
A reunion however was and is unlikely to happen. Many of the other students also came from other countries - from all over Africa, South America and Asia as well as Europe. I lost contact with most of them too. If there had been e-mail and Facebook or MySpace it might have been different. We might have stayed in touch - but I doubt there would have been a reunion. We were and are too scattered.
A friend however is considering travelling back to the UK for a reunion of her old college group.
They have, against all odds, maintained contact for fifty years. They have an annual reunion in their old college. She has not been to one for ten years and she wants to go to another - and this one is a very special occasion.
Everything was sorted out. Tickets had been bought for her and for her husband. Accommodation had been arranged. They were planning on taking an extended holiday while there - something they both need.
The problem is that their son is ill. Nobody knows how long he will live. It could be weeks or months. Some people say "Go". Others say "Stay". She is confused by longing to see her friends at this special reunion and her strong belief that she should spend as much time as she can with her son. She doubts she can even spend a week away from him. He wants her to go.
He thinks there is an answer to all this - Skype.
They will not have their extended holiday but they will have physical contact with friendships which have lasted half a century. He says it will do his mother good. It might. Reunions are curious things.


penjandrum said...

I've been to one reunion and it wasn't a happy experience; people in my group had died and there was sadness and nostalgia. Also it wasn't nice seeing how a couple of former friends I remembered with fondness had turned out.

If I may express an opinion here, I think your friend should stay home with her son, the need for a holiday and the Skype technology notwithstanding. Her holiday is going to be spoiled by worry, she may have to cut it short anyway, and finally if her group has a reunion every year and is staying in touch, she can go next time. The others will understand, I'm sure.


andewallscametumblindown said...

If I may express an opinion, it's that I don't think we should advise others based on incomplete information. I'm sure your friend has made the right decision for everyone involved.

It's time for "someone else" to post more about reunions ... maybe tomorrow. ~Miriam