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Past, Tense?

My husband’s college reunion is looming and I’m trying to be supportive, but I have to admit he’s really beginning to bug me. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

If you’ve ever been to a spouse’s high school or college reunion, chances are you know whereof I speak. It’s tough to get excited about spending a weekend at a school you didn’t go to with people you don’t know and a spouse who has temporary permission to be 18. He didn’t help his cause much when he approached me with a request.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. He was holding a list of some 300 songs from the 1970s. “You volunteered me to sit indoors in front of a computer in this beautiful weather so that I can search for and spend umpteen hours downloading music for an event I don’t even want to attend?”

He thought about it briefly and said, “Yep, that about sums it up!” The excitement in his eyes was almost nauseating.

“Oh, for the love of God,” I said, snatching the list. “Stop looking so happy.”

It isn’t our first go-around with this, by the way. The last time I attended my husband’s reunion was 10 years ago, and I distinctly remember thinking, Well, how hard could it be? I mean, sure, I’d recently had our first child and was on the nine-months-on, nine-years-off weight-loss plan. I would know absolutely no one. I’d be meeting many of my husband’s ex-girlfriends, and my breasts could conceivably leak at any time.

But the truth is, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was touching to watch my husband go back to a place—and in some respects, a time—that was long gone when we’d first met.

That’s part of what reunions are: an opportunity to revisit a time when you still had permission to be a kid, to close the campus bar on a winning pool streak or—and I’m not saying I know anyone who did this—to fund your social life by doing shots of hot sauce. You know in your head that you’ve become an adult in the intervening years, but for this small window, you get to remember, rehash and in some ways relive a period that you’ve put aside.

My husband’s always gotten that part. When we go back to my hometown for high school reunions, he kind of hangs back with a bemused expression and watches me be 16—no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that he met me at double that number. He also knows that I don’t want to BE 16 again, that it’s temporary, and that I’m just trying to reconnect.

That’s another part of the appeal of reunions: the reconnecting. As I get older, I find that reconnecting with people from my past makes me feel whole, somehow. It reminds me how far I’ve come, and who I’ve met and lost track of along the way.
Seeing people we knew when we were young reminds us that we were, in fact, young. It allows us to get in touch with people and a part of our lives we never intentionally disconnected from in the first place.

And while it may not be as exciting for me, I’m realizing the fact that my husband wants to share his past with me is a good thing.

So I’m making the ’70s playlist. I’ll buy a sundress for the Saturday night event, and watch him mingle at the Sunday afternoon picnic. The difference this time is that I get it. I won’t panic at being abandoned or wish I looked like his old girlfriends. I’m actually happy for his—our—opportunity to go back. I’ve even chosen a theme song, a little slow-it-down-and-hold-your-partner-close number.

“Reunited, and it feels so good . . .”

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at maggiesimone@verizon.net.

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