Tag Archives: elizabeth barrett browning

Reunions and Poetry

Sometimes I find my self paralyzed here before the keyboard. I am paused by concern that my thoughts are mundane or trite; that anything I say will have been said before. And better. Ah well,  sometimes that which has been said before is worth saying again. And perhaps, again.

I went to my 30th high school reunion recently. I was ambivalent about attending; my life now seems so remote from those days of the past. I am here, they are there. I am not who I thought I would be. I have family, friends, career…an identity that seems to have little to do with then. There were though, reasons to go, places to revisit, people to embrace, relationships to nurture. So off I went.

I was moved and surprised. Sure, it was fun. Unexpectedly, stay up-til-3AM-two-nights-in-a-row kind of fun. Sure, there were people who I was surprised by. I found more people than not unchanged; we slipped back into easy conversation. It was as much fun to watch who looked the same as they always had as it was to see who had satisfyingly evolved (not sure where I fell exactly). Sure, it was interesting to see what had come of old flames.

The real magic though was not so simple to explain. I have since, been coming here to this keyboard to write, only to pull away, in a struggle to explain something different. I found my voice through remembering the words of Elizabeth Barret Browning quoted by a classmate as she warmly led us in a remembrance for the too many that we have lost:

What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes.

The people we knew in our youth, the people of our growing years shaped us. They have defined us in ways hard to account for. I was embraced by a warm air of recognition, understanding and support by those many faces from the past. We all move forward into our lives and, the people we become? They are in large part shaped by our relationships of the past. I found this especially poignant and reassuring. I have next to no family of my own left; I have lost many. Yet I know well that they are with me, they are in me. Even so, I was surprised to see how strongly even small acquaintances of the past were a part of who I am today.

As we re-encountered each other we asked and, answered over again, the same set of questions. Where do you live? What do you do? Married? Divorced? So sorry. Children? These were our descriptors used to define us. But just as easily, the questions to define us upon meeting could be: Where were you from? Who was your first kiss? Who taught you art? What were the trees like there in the summer? Which friends motivated you? Who do you love still? What did your high school look like? Who still intimidates you? Who do you miss?

What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes.

Indeed. I am shaped by my past. I taste it.

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