Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why Do We Go To Reunions? by Rolynn Anderson

As you read this, I’ll be flying from Madison, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  From there I’ll take a shuttle to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, a Lutheran-affiliated college I attended back in the dark ages, when we actually communicated by writing letters, making phone calls and talking to each other face-to-face.  Women stayed in their own dorms with a 10:00 curfew; men had unlimited hours.  Don’t get me started about THAT inequity.  Computers?  Not one on campus.

By now you’ve figured out this is my 50th reunion; why am I going?  I write annual Christmas cards to ONE person in my graduating class; I attended the 25th reunion, and learned my college years were more fun than I remembered, but I did not begin corresponding with anyone at that reunion.  Still, I am returning to this college full of Scandinavians, at great cost and effort, and I’m not sure why.  What’s more:
1.  My husband isn’t going (this would be water torture to him); so I’ll be skipping all the ‘extended’ events after the 3-day event…which are for couples
2.  My Christmas card pal can’t come because she’s fighting cancer.
3.  I tried to help on the planning committee, but couldn’t do much from afar.
4.  I attempted a book signing with other writers…at first four were interested; now I’m down to (maybe) one other person sitting with me in the St. Olaf Bookstore for an hour.
5.  I've made a couple feeble ‘see you there’ overtures.  In fact, the event reminds me of important relationships I did not continue.  (An additional angst…my classmates didn’t reach out to me, either!)
6.  We lost so many of our classmates in service to our country or because of illness or accidents.  My college boyfriend died at age 58!  The memorial will be tough.
7.  I don’t like the feeling/notion of an end game; this feels a little like a ‘so long’ event.

But you know me, the half-full glass woman…what will I get out of this reunion?
1.  A reminder of who my classmates were and how far they’ve come; and who I was back then and how far I’ve come.
2.  A second reminder of the fun I had back then and the fun I’m still having (which is the truth).
3.  A couple new readers (I mean, come on, one of my books-Lie Catchers-is full of Norwegians!)
4.  A good feeling about the aging/saging years, especially since I have robo- knees!
5.  Recalling what special people I went to school with for four years (One of my roommates was a brilliant mezzo-soprano who sang opera in Germany!).
6.  Enjoying the three days for what they are, a time when a bunch of  bright, successful, aging Scandinavians get together to share memories and sing old fight songs.

Here’s one song (this tells you how unusual we are…try this with a Norwegian accent):
“We come from St. Olaf, we sure are the real stuff, our teams are the cream of the colleges great.  We fight fast and furious, our teams are injurious; we know Carleton college will sure meet its fate.  Um Ya, Ya, Um Ya Ya (This goes on for awhile).”  I know.  Crazy.

Try this:
Lutefisk, Lefse, Rummegrot, a Sil, we come from St. Olaf, the college on the hill.

So think of me these next three days, finding balance and fun at St. Olaf, trying not to overthink the whole event.  If you have some reunion advice, I’ll take it!

 Note:  On June 10, I’ll give you a play-by-play of what I learned.  I promise.

More about Lie Catchers, my Amazon Encore/Wild Rose novel, set in contemporary Petersburg, Alaska, a town full of Norwegians who arrived in the early 1900's.  I take on a real cold case from 1932 along with a recent murder.  Here's more:

Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.

Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.

Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.

Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?

Lie Catchers:           


Leah St. James said...

Oh, made me laugh! Even if you're not able to RE-connect with some friends, I'm betting you'll make some new ones! And probably gain a few readers, too. And you'll be able to keep up on Facebook now!

I have never been to any class reunion. I contemplated my 25th high school reunion, for about 10 minutes. Those years were full of angst for me (typical teen), and the thought of seeing some of the people sent me into an eating frenzy (my cure for stress). I remember staring into the half-devoured bag of chips and thinking maybe it isn't such a great idea for me to go.

I can't wait for your report back on June 10!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Have a great time, Rolynn, past, present and future.

Wild Women Authors said...

Thank you so much for this eye-opener, Rolynn. I too am facing a 50th for my class in nursing school. We meet every year for lunch and it's like 364 days have not passed. Your post made me smile. Everyone deserves to smile at least once a day. Thank you.
Kat Henry Doran

Diane Burton said...

St Olaf, Rose's (Golden Girls) alma mater. A few years ago, I went to my high school 50th reunion, also sans husband. It was great. But I wouldn't have gone if not for one friend I'd sort of kept in touch with (mainly Christmas cards). She encouraged me to come because my best friend (hers, first) who lived in CA was flying in, also sans husband. Best thing we did was leave the men behind. Rather than worry about them feeling left out, we could enjoy catching up. I never had good memories about school (elementary, esp. & high school). But, like you, I was amazed at how much fun I did have in h.s. Because of my friend, who still lived in the community and was a magnet, so many of the girls I knew back then stopped by. One even commented that she always admired my hair, how thick it was. I was thrilled, since my hair is now thinning on top. LOL I guess my point is have fun, Rolynn. Can't wait to read your next post.

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, Rolynn. Great outlook. I love how you turned all those negatives into positives. It's a beautiful thing that you are able to make this special trip. I'm sorry about your losses and your Christmas card buddy. It sounds like you'll have a wonderful time anyway, and best wishes on the book signing. Can't wait to read all about your trip!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great post. And I am going to read Lie Catchers when I get this book I'm writing done. I have a 50th coming up for high school and I'm not going. I did do the 10th and the 25th. Had fun at the 10th but not at the 25th. I can't go to the 50th and I'm not too sad about it. I've made a lot of connections with classmates on FB but my closest friends...two died in an auto accident together two years after high school, one is an addict and recluse, another is healthy but practically a recluse who won't answer my messages, another two are cousins who live out of state and won't go, one a firefighter who died in a fire, and a couple of more who I do see from time to time anyway. I do value the reconnections I've made on FB with classmates who didn't really care to be my friend back then but are now. Ah, we do grow and change. These people are the lettermen and cheerleaders who wouldn't give a wannabe hippy much more than a hi how are ya in the hall. I can't wait to hear how your reunion goes!

Jannine Gallant said...

Have a GREAT time! I've never gone to a high school reunion. We did have a college dorm reunion quite a few years ago. I had a wonderful time and am still in Christmas card/Facebook contact with a few from that group. We had a reunion lunch sans spouses so we could reminisce without them dying of boredom then went to the beach with families afterward so we could meet spouses and a few kids. A nice balance.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I've never been to a reunion. I was either too busy with the kids or working too many hours or too budget stretched to pay the costs. Now that those issues are gone, I've no desire to see people I haven't seen in 50 years. Even so, I love how you pointed out all the positives of your upcoming trip. Have a ball and come back with tales to tell. You'll engage us with your marvelous wit.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Margo, thanks. Kay, l've been told l can get a worm to dance...l'll make the best of the experience!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, I love your story...I think I was right to leave hubs home. You reminded me to be sure to compliment hair. What we observe/say matters!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Brenda, you are right...those old scripts don't matter after a time. One reason to let go of some of that old stuff.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Jannine, I'd like to keep track of some w/ FB and much easier!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie I've never liked missing out on a fun time. 200 of my classmates are going...I HAVE to be there😏 Plus I'm one of 14 playing the bells at the memorial...'they point at me and I shake those babies 🙀'. I'm in the to you the 10th!$

Alison Henderson said...

St. Olaf is a unique place, and I'm sure the reunion will be quite an event. I haven't been to a reunion since my 25th at Vassar. It was my mother's 50th, so I took OG and PO&O and we made a family affair of it. This September, OG and I are traveling to Kansas City for his 50th high school reunion. I can't say I'm particularly looking forward to it since, like your husband, I won't know anyone there. But OG would never go alone, so I'll be there to have his back.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ahh, the things we do for our husbands :-) Think of book plots while OG and his friends yak. Yes, St. Olaf is unique, now with 3000 students, up from the 2000 when I attended. I'm in the to register, soon!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Alicia, thanks for the upbeat message. Picking out clothes to wear...difficult! And I now realize how hot it's going to be here. Are my clothes cool enough? As the Norwegians say...Uff Da!

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, I love your positive attitude. I have never been to a reunion of any sort whatsoever, neither school nor college, and have no bloody intention of ever doing so. That despite the fact I am still in touch with a number of ladies and had 2 friends from college at Cristal's wedding. BUT stand in a room trying to limp down memory lane? No thanks!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Andi, when you say 'bloody,' I know there's no wriggle room. I'm eternally hopeful this reunion works for me in some way. Tonight after a big dinner for volunteers with lots of wine flowing (at St. Olaf!), I may have sold 20 books. I. AM. NOT. KIDDING. So fun to chat about what life has thrown my old friends. More evals to come.