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ENDPAPER
reed magazine logoWinter 2008
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Seven Excuses for Not Attending Reunions and Seven Reasons Why You Should

By Jane Neff Rollins ’73

Before ambivalently attending my first class reunion in 1983, I put together the following list of excuses not to show up. Maybe you’ve used some of the same ones to avoid coming back as well. Consider the counter arguments I came up with, and then consider joining us this year. I’ve had a blast at every reunion I’ve attended, and I think you will, too.

1. No one will remember me. Even if you didn’t hang with the folk dancers, the druggies, the politicos, or the all-in-black clique, someone is likely to remember you, no matter how solitary you were. But even if that someone is not among this year’s attendees, we’re a friendly group. You’re sure to meet someone who will like the you that you have become.

2. My life at Reed was too painful. Painful is waiting expectantly at the dorm window, unwilling to go to dinner until a certain person, who didn’t know I existed, entered commons. Painful is taking three final exams with an undiagnosed burst eardrum. Painful is sitting at home alone after class with a black cat on my lap, tears streaming unbidden down my face. That bout of clinical depression lifted only after I volunteered as a dance therapist with schizophrenic kids at the Perry Center. If I can survive all that, and then have fun at a class reunion, I suspect you probably can too.

3. I don’t want to relive unhappy memories. We all had unhappy times at Reed. Several people at our class get-togethers say they now realize that they were clinically depressed at Reed. We were adolescents then, gathered together in a bizarre ragout of standouts, dropouts, and cop-outs. We had widely divergent interests, talents, sexual orientations, political views, idiosyncrasies. Many of us lived through tumultuous times: in our case, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, women’s and gay liberation. We made it (most of us, anyway). It’s time to celebrate.

4. I don’t want to live in the past. You’d be surprised how quickly conversation moves past reminiscing. After the first flush of “whatever happened to…,” and “remember when…,” we fast-forward to the people we are today, our interests, our passions. I don’t know about you, but since leaving college my circle of friends has gotten smaller, and each friend shares at most one or two interests with me, never the depth of shared interests I had among friends at Reed. The Reedies I’ve met at Reunions—from my class and others—are deeply, even wildly, interesting, wacky, and fun to be with.

5. I haven’t done much with my life and I will feel inferior. I define success not by income or possessions, but by how much I have managed to balance my work life and my personal life with the passions I remember from my youth. Yes, some of us undoubtedly make a great deal of money (not me), or have prestigious positions (not me), or drive fancy cars (not me), or have been married for decades and have raised model children (okay, so yes, me). Many of us live humdrum lives in which our passions are not engaged in our work for our daily bread, and some of us direct our passions to creativity outside the workplace: paintings, growing vegetables, volunteering, raising kids. That’s life, and it’s okay to feel okay about it. Reunions is a good place to start.

6. I don’t belong because I didn’t graduate from Reed. Neither did I. If participating in the thesis parade were a requirement for attending Reunions, a lot fewer of us would show up. If you attended Reed, you are part of the Reed family, and we will welcome you.

7. I can’t show my face until I lose weight, get Lasik, lift a body part of my choice. We have all changed physically. Those who still have their figures may not have their hair color (or even their hair) anymore. To paraphrase Maurice Chevalier: middle age ain’t so bad, at least when you consider the alternative. Some of our former classmates didn’t make it to middle age. By coming to Reunions, we can honor them, too.

In his sci-fi classic, Robots of Dawn, Isaac Asimov imagined a world in which no person touched another except to procreate, and people communicated through technological means, never face-to-face or skin-to-skin. In a society where email and MySpace substitute for hanging out at the coffee shop, and soundbites stand in for impassioned debate, Asimov’s terrifying vision seems to be just around the corner. Think of Reed Reunions as an opportunity to reject that vision, to reach out and touch one another: our past, our present, our future.

Come celebrate our sameness and our differences…join us for Reunions 2008.

reed magazine logoWinter 2008