The night before Maury and I drove up to Putney, Vermont, I experienced disturbing dreams. Confusion and anxiety tormented me. In my dream, I was lost in dormitories that weren’t the ones I’d lived in, back in the 1960s. God knows what I was afraid of. It must have been the anticipation of an important event, fearful that something might derail it, that my friends might not be there or not know me.
My nighttime fears didn’t come to pass. I was ecstatic to see and greet everyone I’d known.
I attended my 50th High School Reunion at The Putney School this past weekend – complete with weather that could only be called perfect.
Putney had been the school where I was the happiest. It made college a letdown. A truly liberal prep school, with intellectual and personal freedom, I experienced an exhilarating mix of rigorous academic expectations and artistic creativity.
It had been ten years since I was last on the campus of The Putney School. Twenty-one of the fifty-two remaining classmates were present.
It was an obvious fact, but still jarring to discover that everyone wasn’t seventeen years old anymore. We weren’t even in our fifties. Some of my classmates looked and acted youthful and energetic. Others seemed older than I’d expected. But the personalities were basically the same – only developed, mature, experienced. The Bad Boys (as they liked to think of themselves back then) were a mixture of joyful exhilaration and pensive contemplation.
The last fifty years of life after Putney School for some of us were challenging. Not everyone was married or had children. Some yearned for grandchildren that they hoped would come. Some were retired. Others were working at the same pace they had their whole lives. Everyone was hoping to continue a full and meaningful life – or find a new path that would bring fresh experiences.
No one spoke about academic or job accomplishment. No one implied great financial success. We were just kids again, communicating openly about situations that were personally significant.
In quiet conversation with many of my classmates I felt safe enough to ‘come out’ – which is how I’ve come to feel, when I tell those who don’t already know, about the events of 2005 – 2007. The horror in their eyes lets me know that they’ve heard me. From their expressions and words, I know that they were able to understand what I went through during that time. As I tell more people about some of the horrifying events that threatened me, I move further away from the experience. It’s as if it happened to someone else.
After the weekend events were over on Sunday, Maury and I walked to the car. I felt the warm sun and the breeze on my cheek as we headed back to Connecticut, back to my father and children, my grandson, back to my real life.