I went to a formal college reunion at the weekend – the classes of ’86, ’87, ’88 and ’89. These events tend to run every 6 or 7 years and it’s a chance to catch up as well as to stay in halls and eat in the dining hall, to slightly re-live some aspects of the student experience (joyfully without any exams to worry about).
There were a group of us attending who’ve kept in touch throughout, so we arranged to stay an extra night in our old colege rooms to have a weekend together. And then once the arrangements were made and ‘posh frocks’ chosen, then started the speculation about who else might be there….to quote one of my friends ‘have you seen the latest list? How many did you….?’ Interestingly, that was just the girls. The boys, at least in mixed company, remained discrete. Perhaps from good mamners or possibly not quite remembering what information they had in the past shared with whom.
Two things really struck me over the weekend:
– those three years at university really were an innocent time;
– people change but fundamentally the things which might have drawn you together 25 years ago are still there.
There is an interesting dynamic in our group of friends, three (or in some cases four) years of youthful serial monogamy means that most of us have several exes among the group. All but one couple have long since moved on to pastures new but the memories are still there.
After the checking and rechecking of the attendance list and reminiscing over past snogs, liaisons and more serious conquests (as I say, an innocent time) there were a few sweet moments:
One ex bounding out of their room to help me upstairs with my suitcase;
But I’m still not quite sure what is the correct response when an ex mentions in passing they still have all the letters you wrote them?
Or points out they are wearing the silk handkerchief you gave them over a quarter of a century ago?
Looking back at those relatively short-lived but intense relationships, it almost feels as though we were trying each other out, road-testing potential life partners, albeit dressed up in a cloud of romance. That put certain pressures on at the time which I struggle to remember now. Assumptions about the way things should be.
Apart from the occasional ‘one-night stand’ in the main we assumed that any sexual relationship might be ‘the one’. I can’t help wondering how different it might’ve been if we’d realised we had three magical years to experiment, to push our boundaries, to just live in the moment.