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By Arnold Alamon

Wrapped in Grey

Thursday, January 2, 2014

THIS year marks the 20th anniversary of high school batches who graduated in the year 1993. And we, Corpus Christi High School Class of 93, just had our reunion last week.

Putting together in one room the cast of characters so essential to your growing up years brings back a lot of memories that is true. But the wonder of gatherings like these is that it is so easy to pick up once again on the friendship and the sense of camaraderie that have been somewhat severed by one of life’s cruel stages – college.

I have had college friends and I also value them even though we have not kept in touch as much as I expected. The same with dorm mates who just achieve flesh in your memory when you remember the funny anecdotes about life in the college dorm in those chance gatherings. But there is a weight to the value of high school friends that is totally different.

Maybe, it is the fact that these people were with you in that all important axis as you transformed from immaturity to adulthood. Or in our case, we knew each other when we were little kids in that little schoolhouse in Macasandig, ate for lunch in each other’s homes, and fought over the same guys and girls when we got to high school.

It could be that deep familiarity we have of each other, the type that cannot be hidden by the series of makeovers we have undertaken throughout college and beyond. You may call yourself Raffy now for instance, as a manifestation of a more urbane you. But to your high school classmates, you will always be Paeng, the same funny adorable guy before but now with less hair.

While we put our best foot forward before friends in the workplace or new acquaintances, there is no need to do that in the company of old friends from high school. Because we know that no matter how hard we social climb before them, they will always see through the pretension. Besides, there is no need to pretend because they will take you for who you are, warts and all.

I maybe romanticizing too much the high school experience and it might not be applicable for some. I understand that it is a harrowing stage in life and others have built meaningful friendships after high school like I did. That is fine. But I am sure that there had been one or two or three whom you have established a deep bond with during this time. This same set of people I am sure will be there in your wake as I imagine with mine.

Stripped to the core, I think the value of high school friendships is the child-like innocence of its roots. And reunions provide a momentary return to this stage when matters were still uncomplicated and to a certain extent, pure. Given the complex responsibilities of adult life, it is a welcome respite to be reminded that friendship need not be complicated and self-serving since the intervening years have probably made all of us cynical and jaded about people. In reunions, we are reminded of the good beginnings of this journey called life and how important it is to come home.

Various human cultures from ancient to contemporary times have a version of this almost mythical event regarding grand departures and arrivals. The theme is almost similar wherever. As a rite of passage, one has to leave in order to bring oneself closer to home. But there must have been more drama to the workings of this process before. Uncharted waters, frontier land, and wide open spaces or dense forests or jungles characterized the geography of the past. Today, there are ribbons of asphalt and GPS satellites, Google maps, but the ethos of the trip remains the same. One still has to leave to bring oneself closer to home.

This leaving and then of coming home is I believe the essence of reunions. It is of interest why we call such events a homecoming because that is what it really is - a coming home. But this time, it is not a structure nor a place that one goes home to. It is instead a gathering of people that assumes that sense of place called home. We come home to the people with whom we have shared precious moments with a long time ago and yet remain significant markers of our life’s journey to the end.

(Arnold P. Alamon is an Assistant Professor IV, Sociology Department, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 03, 2014.


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