Haiku for a High School Reunion

Whispered message
Of each new wrinkle and gray hair:
Rejoice! You’re still here.

I found myself reflecting on this piece before my thirtieth high school reunion recently. Probably like all my former classmates, I felt some anxiety about how I’ve aged since graduation, while trying to keep those new wrinkles and pounds in perspective.

I also felt an echo of my old sense of alienation from the mainstream crowd at Ukiah High. In my day, this big rural school in northern California boasted not only a smoking area but also a spitting area, complete with a drain. Here, guys who wore cowboy hats and boots to school every day were supposed to let their tobacco juices loose. Alas, most did not limit themselves to the spitting area.

Those of us who planned to attend a four-year college were considered “brains,” and we were a distinct minority. And amid a sea of white, Mexican and Native American students, I remember only one other Asian girl; despite the fact that I was quite a bit taller and in a different year, people sometimes confused the two of us.

Yet when reunion day came about a week ago, I found more friends and kindred souls than I remembered. In a redwood grove set among golden vineyards, we rekindled old connections and shared funny memories. And I didn’t see anyone chewing tobacco.

Thirtieth reunion—
Each wonders, who are all these

Middle-aged people?

High school reunion—
No one can read business cards

Without their glasses.

We’ve lost hair, gained weight—
The true losses run deeper;

The gains are priceless.

The decades dissolve
As time loops back on itself—

Laughter transcends years.

After thirty years,
Just the same, and yet better

These dear high school friends.

Among the vineyards
This vintage has reached its prime—

Class of eighty-one.