Going home is almost always wonderful, except when it’s to grieve a loss of a loved one.
Recently, I went back to my home town, Miami Beach, for my High School reunion, and it was a very joyous time, but there was some, brief, grieving.
At my age, many of the people I knew and loved start to pass, and the list of those who left us gets longer with time. We remembered them fondly and dearly last night.
Still, out of a graduating class of about 450, we had close to 100 people come out and remember… and it seemed like their memories were happy. Not a bad turnout actually, especially with Covid.
Oh, our bodies are failing us, our hair is leaving us in some places and going to other places that we wish hair wouldn’t. Our age is showing, and I’m sure there were many with bouts over the years with serious illness, divorce, and heartbreak. But the thing is, for last night, there was mostly happiness and laughter and happy memories.
I went to high school in a time when integration was just being implemented, a time before gay rights really came into prominence. The gay kids at our school had to keep it to themselves and that’s now coming back in Florida schools and it is becoming law. I can’t tell you how damaging NOT talking about real life is in education, but that’s another subject.
Anyway, I met “out” gay classmates last night. I met the popular and those who never stood out. I met the healthy and those who struggled with their health. But mostly, I re-acquainted myself with friends, and some I never really knew.
I was fortunate enough to have a high profile career, and truthfully, people look at you differently when you’ve been on television or made a name for themselves in public. It’s a blessing to me…but I have never lost grip of reality. I really never changed that much from the goofy kid I was, but I also have perspective. Mostly a chunk of that success is just dumb luck. But I enjoyed the kind words and kindhearted people who came up to me and said so many nice things.
I was a bit of a vaudevillian in high school, something like I am now…and I performed a short 20 minute “set” that was both funny, (I hope) and for me, a bit touching.
Life has been so kind to me.
I am so grateful to have so many happy memories from my childhood. As I drove around my hometown, there was so many changes, so many things I knew that aren’t there anymore.
I literally didn’t recognize my childhood home, because so many changes altered the look of the house I knew. But what WAS still vivid and real and vibrant was friends, family, and mostly happy memories.
For many, getting old really, never, gets old. But here’s the thing. The only thing “worse” than getting old…is NOT having a chance to get old.
Life is such a crap shoot, so many things have to do with health and fate, and dumb luck, as I have enjoyed.
So I did my little show, as I was known for since even elementary school…and it was, thankfully well received.
Decades have passed, some of us have too, some memories grow harder to remember and the ones that are still strong are mostly joyous.
So we drank a toast and visited with one another…”every year’s a souvenir that slowly fades away.”….as Billy Joel once wrote.
So as we fade away with those memories, we drink a toast to the innocence and the past and now, too.
We made it to the reunion and it’s great to be alive.
It beats the hell out of the alternative.
By Roy Firestone | June 7, 2022