Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going Home Again

The Ko'olau mountains
It's been nearly four decades since I moved away. Although I've been back many times for short visits, this was the first occasion in which I reconnected with many of those with whom I had spent my youth.

We had our reunion dinner at the Mid-Pacific Country Club in Lanikai, where a well-known alumnus likes to hang out when he returns to Oahu. The Ko'olau mountains, jagged in their youth and now softer and rounder in their middle age, provided a fitting backdrop for a class picture.

Professional photographer Eric Y. snapped away, adding to his 40-year collection of class negatives. When he ran his slide show of senior-year memories, I had three thoughts:
1) I'm glad he took those pictures;
2) I regret my youthful irritation at Eric's ubiquitous camera;
3) We had some very attractive young ladies in our class--if only I had taken the time to notice!

We honored those whom we will never see again. Each of us was alone with our thoughts as pictures and memories played across the screen. Lisa K. reprised the A.A. Milne passage that she read at our graduation; I flashed back to that moment in Mr. Lichthardt's eighth-grade English class when she spoke about Christopher Robin and his beloved bear. I'm sorry to admit that as a wiseacre young teen I stifled a snicker. How unaware was I about the little cruelties that I inflicted on others.

We formed a circle, held hands just as we used to in elementary school and as teen-agers in the Sixties, albeit for different reasons, and sang the mournful prayer of Queen Liliuokalani. In the original Hawaiian the prayer is especially beautiful, and remarkably even the Mainlanders remembered the words that we learned as children.

The evening flew quickly as we shouted the Cliff's Notes version of our lives to each other. I tried to make the rounds but only talked to a fraction of my classmates. The rest will have to wait until next time.

Jimmy, whose presidency of our class from sixth to twelfth grade foreshadowed his life's path, said that he hoped to be in office when the school hosted our 50th reunion. Amen, brother, and aloha (till we meet again). © 2010 Stephen Yuen

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