Monday, December 23, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Tina,

So did you head east to Warren, midsummer, for our 30th high school reunion? At the beginning of the year it was on a list of events I wanted to incorporate into my 1998 schedule. I was actually looking forward to it, somewhat of a surprise considering my rather lukewarm experiences at our 5th and 20th editions. I even imagined conversations with certain classmates: Gail Benson, Bill McGuckin, Melissa Vought. Don’t ask me why those names floated into my head.

Andy’s baseball schedule clarified our summer plans. He had a tournament scheduled for the last weekend of July, which, of course, coincided with our reunion. As it turned out, the boys and I were in Warren the following weekend, JoAnna’s ultimately successful efforts in reclaiming the state senate for the Democrats the reason for her staying home. (She’s the director of the state senate Democratic caucus.)

Once I realized I wouldn’t be attending the reunion, I wanted to get my hands on the booklet the planning committee prepares. I procrastinated for weeks, telling myself to write Rick Dies a letter. I had heard from my sister-in-law that attendance was below expectations. There’s gotta be some extra copies in someone’s closet, I figured. Guess what I received from Rick Dies one day in the mail in late August? Yes, the coveted booklet. I studied it carefully, eager to know who has grandchildren, who’s living the deluxe lifestyle, who doesn’t seem to have changed a bit since 1968. What really bowled me over – and this observation will give you an indication of just how carefully I reviewed the contents – is how many of our classmates still live in the Warren area. It’s easily more than 50%. I have to admit that I have come to appreciate Warren a lot more than I did in high school – its history, its architecture, its foothills setting – but I can’t imagine myself ever living there. During the 20 years I’ve lived in Wisconsin, I’ve become a tried-and-true Midwesterner, even though my Packer allegiance is still pretty weak.

What a strange Christmas letter, you must be thinking. Admittedly, it’s very self-indulgent, but it is inspired by you, Tina. I think it would be fun to talk on the phone some evening and catch up on each other’s life. Mine has been very good. JoAnna and I have a wonderful relationship and, as you can see from the enclosed photograph, we have two handsome boys who add so much to our lives. I hate to end this letter on a downbeat note, but I find that Mike (Foster) regularly walks through my thoughts. The last time I talked to him was in 1975, when he confessed to me that he way gay, a fact that I had been aware of, in an unspoken way, since the summer after high school.

I still miss him after all these years. In spite of all his idiosyncrasies and his high-maintenance personality, he was a wonderful friend.

I send along my sincere best wishes for the new year.

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