by Peter Robertson

imageMy friend Steve Maley threw down the gauntlet, challenging me to write something for this site after Julie Price Davidson wrote her eloquent eulogy for Sandra Benson. Julie’s piece was so well written, and so affecting, that I was disinclined to write anything because it couldn’t possibly measure up! But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our upcoming reunion, and thinking back to our graduation as well. It’s not just the reunion that has spurred this – it’s in part an accident of timing.

I had my children later in life than many of you did – we just lived through my older daughter’s high school graduation in June and then dropped her off at Tulane University a few weeks ago. Leaving her in New Orleans was an emotionally difficult thing to do, and I know that’s not news to any of you who have already gone through this. As Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson put it when he dropped his son off at college: “I put on my best face. But it is the worst thing that time has done to me so far. That moment at the dorm is implied at the kindergarten door, at the gates of summer camp, at every ritual of parting and independence. But it comes as surprising as a thief, taking what you value most.”

The emotions of parting from my daughter drew my thoughts in a straight line back to our graduation from Edison. As I’ve thought about the years 1970 – 1974, one notion most stuck with me – that is, everything useful I learned in high school, I learned outside the classroom. And I learned it from you, my classmates.

Chief among those lessons is the value of genuine friendship. That lesson, though, couldn’t become clear to me until I was able to look back decades later on our experiences at Edison. Though I left Tulsa for college, and ended up living in Virginia, I have stayed in touch with a number of our friends from high school over the past forty years. The importance of those relationships startles when I realize that, with very limited exceptions, I’m not really much in touch with anyone from my college graduating class, except those few who were also Edison graduates.

Time has not diminished the value of those relationships; if anything, it has enhanced them. It’s hard to overvalue a friendship you’ve kept for forty years. And it doesn’t really matter how often I see those friends. The relationships are so firmly established and so strongly grounded on collective experience and memories that we can pick right up where we left off, even when years go by between visits. It has been a decade since I last saw Clint Hughes, until he was in town a few weeks back. But you might have thought we lived just around the corner from each other, so familiar were our thoughts, so comfortable was our meeting.

In any case, it has made me look forward to our reunion with a degree of excitement that has surprised me. I’m hoping that many more classmates will sign up for the reunion in the next few days, and show up Friday and Saturday. I’m anxious to reconnect, not just with those friends that I’ve stayed in touch with, but with everyone that I haven’t seen or spoken to for ten or more years. If you’re at all on the fence about attending, please do come! I send my enormous thanks to all those classmates who have worked long and hard to make this event a success. I hope I can buy you a drink on Friday night!