I’m about to turn sixty-two years old. My lifelong tug towards nostalgia is growing stronger. I went to my high school class’ 25th and 35th year reunions. The latter being four years ago. I loved them both. It was great to connect with old friends. I recently started purchasing old vinyl albums from my teen years. I even made a poster of my ten favourite albums from those times. It hangs in my workout room. I’m spending a lot of time listening to music from those formative years. The Band, T-Rex, ELO, Nazareth, and Rush are suddenly getting a lot of air time in my house. Music I listened to with my friends.
A few weeks ago, a university classmate from thirty-two years ago reached out to ask if I’d be interested in participating in a Zoom reunion meeting. I immediately responded with an emphatic yes. I didn’t have to give it any consideration. My heart instantly longed to connect with this group.
I found it strange that my desire to connect would been so strong. It’s not as if I’ve maintained any relationship or connection with any of them. I was thirty years old when I went back to university in 1989. I was married with three children and worked full-time on night shift. It’s not like I had a lot of time to hang out with eighteen-year-old students. I was in a small Arts & Science program with about fifty students. So, we got to know each other fairly well. Even if most of my time with them was limited to class time, lunch breaks, hanging out in the Arts & Science Commons lounge, and a few social events, at a minimum I had a say hi in the hallway relationship with each of them. There was half a dozen or so that I hung around with between classes quite a bit, and another three or four who I invited to my home for a meal to meet my wife and three boys.
I transferred out of this program in my third year of university; after, my contact with my first-year classmates was limited to the casual hallway hello. I no longer spent time in the Commons. After graduation I had no contact with any of them.
Some thirty years later, as I mentioned, in the midst of a global pandemic, someone reaches out for a Zoom reunion meeting.
The Zoom reunion session was scheduled for three hours in length. Over thirty participated. We each took three to five minutes to tell our story, to share what happened in the years since graduation. It turns out most had not stayed in contact with others; though, there are where a few friendships that had been maintained, even if sporadically.
One might think it would be hard to listen for three hours to thirty people talk about their lives. It wasn’t. I loved every minute of it. I loved hearing their stories, hearing them share some of what impacted their lives, what they had loved, what had caused pain. Lives lived.
I found it strange that in those three hours I felt a deep connection with these people I couldn’t explain. Not a single one them was ever that close to me while I was at university. Yet, here I was days later still basking in the feeling of connection from those three hours.
Long ago I came to the conclusion there’s an inherent need in each of us to connect with others, especially when there’s a meaningful shared experience. In this case, a first-year Arts & Science program we all loved. Our varied stories each had a common theme. We loved our time in the program. It played a significant role in shaping our lives. A few of us were only in the program for a year or two. But it happened anyway. A bond was created. We didn’t know it then, at least I didn’t. A connection formed that lasted beyond what most would expect.
I wasn’t alone in feeling this sense of connection. Others felt it too. At the end of the Zoom meeting a quarterly session was established, also, talk of an in-person reunion once we’ve moved through this global pandemic.
I’ve always loved and longed for connection with people. It’s a big motivating factor in my career choices, having worked in sales and being a pastor.
I’m thrilled to have reconnected with my friends from 1989. I look forward to our journey.