WENDY'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURES by Wendy Jacobs, Class of 1987
Blog dated 15 July 2015
posted 23 July 2015
After every reunion, I feel like I write the same blog post. Over and over again.
And in terms of capturing the raw feeling of what it's like for all of us, I can't express it any better than Lisa has.
But what I have been trying to figure out since I returned from my India reunion in DC this past weekend is why. Or what. What it is about those people, from that place and that point in my life, that makes our reunions - or any time we get to spend together - feel so much more special than get-togethers with other groups of friends?
I loved UVA, and I love going to my college reunions and seeing my old friends and classmates, but those reunions don't leave me an emotional mess, wishing I could travel back in time and hold on to those days and those people and never let go.
I enjoyed living in Israel and going to my Israel reunions, but it's not the same.
There was some kind of magical alchemy going on in India. It was being there at the perfect age - old enough to go out on our own and experience the country in a grown-up-ish way - in the perfect place with the perfect people at the perfect school with the perfect teachers and faculty. Teachers and faculty mostly lived in the school's extensive residential housing, and many of them had kids of their own at the school, so we interacted with faculty not just during class, but on campus and as the parents of our friends.
The truth is, we were, and are, family. That's the difference. It feels like coming home to family - to people who you love and accept fully, and who love and accept you, and around whom you feel entirely comfortable and happy.
Upon arriving in India at the beginning of the second semester of my junior year, I became fast friends with a large number of people in 10th, 11th and 12th grades - the school was small, so we intermingled all over the place. Two of my immediate good buddies were Sarah and Emily, twin sisters who were in 10th grade. Their dad was also the principal of the high school, and their mom was one of the math teachers. They lived in an apartment on the edge of the school campus, so I spent a ton of time over there, hanging out and having dinner with them. I went with their family to Goa for spring break.
So they weren't just school friends. The whole family were friends-friends, and they treated me like one-of-the-family-friends. The one time I got detention - for extending my lunch period into whatever class came next - it was like getting detention from my grandpa. He sort of rolled his eyes at me and said, "you know I have to give you detention, so sit here for 45 minutes and then it'll be over, and by the way, are you coming for dinner tonight?"
When I saw them all - Sarah and Emily, their older brother Win (who was a year ahead of me in school), and mom and dad - at the reunion, I wasn't saying "hi how's it going so good to see you after all these years" to my old high school principal, or reconnecting with classmates that I knew long ago. I was being welcomed back into the family fold.
Because the reunions are all-class reunions, and because of the nature of diplomatic schools, with people coming and going constantly, I saw many, many people that I didn't know when I was at AES. The reunion included people from the classes of 1962 through 2011. But there were people that I'd heard of because they were either famous or notorious, or who I had met and become friends with at previous reunions, or who met this weekend when my late 80s crew ran into folks from the early 70s while we were all prowling the hallways of the Hyatt looking for an after-party, and we figured we might as well join forces. It was like being at a huge family reunion, and finally getting to meet distant cousins that you hadn't grown up with but you knew you would adore immediately.
Because only with family do I feel totally comfortable, totally myself, totally loved and appreciated. Only with family would I get out on the dance floor and participate in a Bollywood-esque dance with Jason (different Jason, obvs) and Kim, and feel like it was the natural thing to do.
Only with family is it normal that Lisa and I would prance around the perimeter of the dance floor to Kung Foo Fighting while erupting in bizarre star-jump-type kicks, and not feel remotely self-conscious.
Only with family do we all end up lounging in Sid's room at the end of the night, talking about childbirth and boobs and love and music. And sometimes we're just looking around at each other, smiling and enjoying each others' glow.
Only with family do you walk up to say hello to someone that maybe you haven't seen in 30 years, or maybe you saw them last year, or maybe you saw them 5 minutes ago and just got back from the bathroom, and both your faces light up with both happiness and a sense of warmth and comfort that feels like home, and that joy and light makes everyone look ten times more beautiful than they already are.
Only with family do you get into the All Night Long circle, rocking and swaying to Lionel Ritchie at the end of the night, already knowing it's going to make you cry with happiness and nostalgia. And you do cry. And so do others. And it's perfect, because it's family.