Class reunions get better as you get older.
My high school class reunion was last weekend and coincided with my hometown's 150th anniversary and the all-school reunion. Essentially, I had the chance to see hundreds of people whose faces and voices seemed kind of familiar.
I hadn't attended the reunion five years ago and some of my classmates hadn't attended the one before that, so there was plenty of catching up to do. But what we talked about and how we talked about it was different.
Things that used to matter - a lot - don't matter anymore.
The need to impress each other had long since faded away. All the status-y stuff had become unimportant. This time around, we talked about our lives.
Too many of our classmates hadn't lived to see this reunion. We had a list of their names by the registration table. Some had been gone since shortly after we graduated, and one had died last year after a car accident. But each one left a hole in our little group.
At the time of our graduation, we had been Albia Community High School's smallest graduating class in years with 144 members. Within the group, there were, of course, all the usual cliques - the jocks, the geeks, the populars, the brains.
But by the time you've been away for 35 years, it doesn't matter. I could have sat at any table and enjoyed the evening. The people I ate dinner with weren't people I'd spent a lot of time with when I was in school. Sure, I knew them all well enough to speak, but we weren't close, personal friends.
I probably learned more about them in one night than I had throughout the four years we shared hallways and classrooms.
Our former guidance counselor was making his rounds of the tables, and Gene - who was sitting to my left - assured me that Mr. L. wouldn't stop at the table as long as Gene was there. It seems Mr. L. told high school underacheiver Gene there was no point in even thinking about going to college because he couldn't cut it.
Gene responded by sending Mr. L. a copy of his diploma when he graduated from college and a copy of his master's degree, too.
Gene, the kid who shouldn't have bothered with college, is a second-grade teacher.
Dave and Melinda - who sat across from me - have four sons, and - surprise - two of them are attending Iowa Central. Of course, I gave them my contact information so we can get together when they come up to see their boys. Melinda is two years younger than Dave and I, and I really didn't know him that well in school, but I would love to see them when they're in Dodge.
And so it went all night. We gleaned bits of information about each other without comparing our lots. It doesn't matter anymore who has the better job or the bigger house or who makes more money.
What mattered is that for a few short hours we were all together again.
Barbara Wallace Hughes is managing editor of The Messenger.