My, and for that matter Lois’s, 40th high school reunion is coming up in September. Ten years ago, invitations went out by paper, so I walked into the party ignorant of my classmates’ lives. Not this time. While we sped along from 48 to 58, Facebook popped up. Even if I haven’t seen someone since 1973, I will know who is having a ball with the grandbabies. No need to rely on the generic, “What’s new?” Facebook, my hyper-local source for all news good and bad, has clued me into weddings, births and, sadly, deaths.
And then there is e-mail. When we were on the left side of 50, invitations for the reunion arrived by snail mail. These days details of when and where the party begins show up in my inbox, and those responsible for organizing everything (and a thank-you to you if you happen to be reading) can send out a general e-mail blast asking us to “please tell us if you are coming.”
In mid-July, in response to one of these gentle reminders to RSVP, someone e-mailed that she wished she could come, but it would not be possible because she was taking care of an elderly parent. Someone else responded to her with kind words and sympathy, and a brief synopsis of his life over the past 40 years. And someone else chimed in as to how great it was to hear from him, and the e-mail floodgates burst open.
Weigh-ins on the days of yore, and the days of now, and the hellos, and surprises, and the memories of the way we were just kept bouncing like ping pong balls from North Carolina to Texas to California, and back to New Jersey. Far be it from me to divulge the reminisces of our 18-year-old selves, or the fascinating revelations, and fabulous successes of so many people. But I admit to opening my e-mail every day with a tinge of anticipation, because it was fun to read about the past antics and present accomplishments of my high school class.
The flurry of communications has since died down. I guess we are all busy with summer, and sort of wanting to wait until we see each other face to face before more news is exchanged. But it seems this brief trip down memory lane was very healthy. According to this recent article in The New York Times, which came out exactly when the e-mail chain was at its pinnacle, there are great benefits to indulging in nostalgia.
Research shows that a romp in the past enhances bonhomie and good cheer, and makes “life seem more meaningful and death less frightening … people (whom) speak wistfully of the past … typically become more optimistic and inspired about the future.”
So I guess as the Class of ’73 congregates, schmoozes, slugs a few cocktails, and trades tales of the good-old days, when we knew 58 was really old, we should also be patting ourselves on the back for engaging in such a healthy pastime.