My wife’s high school reunion will be in October. One of her good friends from high school is on the planning committee and has a leadership role in tracking people down to let them know about it. He is one of a number of high school friends she has stayed in touch with throughout her life. If it were not for this friend’s involvement, she might not have planned to attend. As she put it, “I am already in touch with the people I want to be in touch with.” But, her friend is on the planning committee, she has paid the deposit, we are going.

I had one close friend in High School. We stayed in touch for a number of years after graduation. I was best man at his wedding. I helped them move from the midwest back to the East Coast when he graduated from college. Then he moved south into the bible belt and we saw each other less frequently. We went our separate ways when he became born again Christian and tried to convert me. I had long before decided that Christianity wasn’t for me and that if there was any kind of God, that entity had little to do with Christianity, or any other religion I was familiar with. His wife was a classmate too, so, with that breakup, I lost touch with the only two classmates I had been in touch with.

Years later, Facebook became a thing and people were discovering long lost friends and acquaintances and reconnecting with them. My wife did. I did not. I never went looking for anybody and nobody came looking for me. Throughout my life, wherever I have gone, whatever I did, when I moved on I left people behind and didn’t look back. Still, I am mildly sad thinking that nobody out of my past wanted to find me.

My wife and I graduated from high schools in the same New Jersey county in the same year. In fact, only a few miles separates the towns our high schools are in. I used to ride my bicycle down to the town in which her high school was located. My family used to go to a swimming lake that was right across the street from her high school when I was a kid. We estimate that until the moment we met in our early 40s, we had spent much of our lives within 50 miles of each other.

I wondered, if her class was busy planning a 50th reunion, mine should be too, right? Why hadn’t anyone reached out to let me know? Surely, someone had a yearbook and had developed a full list of the class members and was diligently tracking people down. Weren’t they? That’s what my wife’s reunion organizing committee did. I wasn’t hard to find. I was on Facebook. I had listed myself as a graduate of my high school. Ok, I hyphenate my name these days, but that misdirection shouldn’t be hard to overcome.

For a while, I told myself we probably lacked the sort of organizational leader and team that makes reunions happen. But I kept wondering, so I went on Facebook and, within minutes, discovered that there is, in fact, a robust reunion effort. A date has been set and a venue chosen. There are spreadsheets. One is organized into columns of “definitely coming,” “maybe coming” and “not coming.” Another has a single column on it, “missing.” My name is not on the missing list. Nope, there is no effort being made to find me.

I dug out my old yearbook and estimated there were around 300 of us in my graduating class. The current lists in the planning effort show about 100, maybe 150 classmates contacted or being looked for. It’s not an exhaustive effort.

As I turned the pages of my yearbook, memories rose like specters in my mind. I recognized and remembered things about more of my classmates than I thought I would. I remembered things about myself too.

I think about who I would want to see and why. I imagine what I might wear. Do I want to wear the off white tunic and get my hair done in a French braid? That’s my standard dress up outfit. I am guessing most wouldn’t understand my fashion choice, I’d be saying look at me! And yet, that is how I dress up to go out. Maybe I should wear something more subdued but still me?

If I see my middle school/high school crush, what would I say to her? The whole basis of our relationship had been my unrelenting adoration which she had fended off with a kindness that only made me want her more. We were eventually able to reach a detente. We became friendly ships passing in the hallways, hailing each other as we did. But there was always the tension of my unrequited love between us.

My crush is listed with a +1 on the attending list. Her twin sister is coming too. She hasn’t thought about me. I have not been found. I am not even being looked for. Sigh.

I found her Facebook account. There isn’t a lot. She is living in Tennessee with a man she married in 2009. Her second marriage? She became a nurse, she is religious and pro-life, judging from the posts on her FB page, which aren’t numerous. I found my best friend too, on an account his wife set up that has three pictures on it, no posts, and hasn’t been added to since 2013. I googled him and found he lived in Oklahoma and was a registered Republican. I wonder, if I reached out to him, would he respond? I wonder if my crush would accept a friend request?

What I realize as I think and write about this, is that all my life I have been arriving at places, doing the work of being me, making friends, having coworkers, and then, moving on, mostly without looking back. I left over bridges that were sometimes burned, but mostly just not maintained. They fell into disrepair then crumbled from neglect. This is habit from a lifetime of moving on. I did not live anywhere for more than five years until we moved into our current home in 2006. Picking up and moving on was my way of life. My wife, on the other hand, has only lived in a handful of places and worked at the same hospital for 40 years.

I realize, as I thumb through the pages of my yearbook and think about what was, that it isn’t only friends, co-workers and acquaintances that I left behind, I left numerous former selves behind. Islands of me scattered along the road I have walked these past 50 years. I realize I am not only wondering about what my classmates have become in their separate journeys to this moment in time. I am looking for the self I was when I knew them. My 50th high school reunion has me returning to all those islands of self left behind along the way and wondering if they’d be willing to reconnect with me.