As I was driving to my friend Jenny’s house I had a strange sense of calm. This part was going to be easy. All the people that would be there were certain to be happy to see me. The only twinge of nerves that I got was in trying to find a parking space. It wasn’t hard but I was determined not to have to parallel park and spaces I thought I could fit in were just a little too small. I planned on arriving fashionably late but was the first one to arrive. No worries, Jenny and I were friends and we would have plenty to talk about. It isn’t every day that you get to sit down with someone who is about to go help build governments in Liberia. Soon after they all trickled in; Emily, Sarma, Miako, Mara, and Jasmine I had seen most of them since High School but none in the last four years or so. It was like no time at all had passed. We caught up, looked at old pictures, and Emily pointed out that none of us had peaked in High School. Good to know. Then it was time to head down the street and over to the actual reunion.
As I walked in my stomach clenched. I was sure that by rolling seven deep all sense of nerves would easily disappear, I was wrong. I looked into the room and saw a sea of faces that I mostly remembered. Jasmine looked at me and let me know she just got nervous herself. I felt a little better. I saw my friend Evelyn who was on the badminton team with me and went to say hello. About twenty seconds into the conversation I realized I was not talking to Evelyn and had no idea who I was speaking to. I got out of there fast but no one seemed to notice. Why wasn’t she wearing a nametag and why did she look at me when I said Evelyn? Oh well, crisis easily avoided. We went to get a drink because you always look less out of place in a bar with a drink in your hand and then scanned the room for people I actually wanted to talk to.
Surprisingly, there were some people of interest. People I hadn’t thought about in ages but who I had shared some good times with. They were the ones who I was most interested in talking to. There were some that got a nice nod or a quick hello but others who I wanted to reminisces with, people who I was actually interested in. Granted they were few and far between but seeing them really meant something. I think I managed to put off only one person. The last think I said to this guy was, “I might never see you again and that is ok with me.” I didn’t mean any offense by the statement, it was simply true. He actually nodded. We talked briefly and he mentioned that he was engaged. I said, “good job,” and he looked a little offended. Emily told me I probably shouldn’t say things that sound like I am surprised anyone would want to marry someone, I guess she has a point. I got to tell a good friend’s wife about the day we ha in High School to “honor” him. See he used to wear his flannel shirts all the way unbuttoned and tucked in. He kept the shirt open about four inches, two on either side of his belt buckle. Emily and I came to school dressed that way one day. I mean how do you tuck in an unbuttoned shirt with precision and not expect people to pay homage? His wife thought it was the funniest thing ever and vowed to have a similar day of her own.
I have friends doing really interesting things; moving to Liberia to help get the government up and running, running a biology lab, working in non-profits, going back to school, finishing up residency, etc. They also seemed really interested in what I did, which was nice because I sometimes take the good I do for granted. My only complaint was that you don’t charge people $15 for a function and then only have an open bar for an hour. No that it mattered to me because I was driving, but still. All I can say is that I am very glad that I went and hope that some people will be true to their word and come visit me. The rest I’ll see in 2017.