On the lake, late fall, in what amounts to a log cabin in the woods. It’s early evening but it’s already dark and I’ve been here for a couple of hours. We’re all here, we’re all midway through our meal of pizza and self-decorated cake. We sip on our Cokes or Coronas, laughing, poking fun, sharing stories from lives we have missed all these years.

This is our reunion.

It is important, the reason why we’re all gathering this Holiday Season instead of the six or seven Thanksgivings previous now, but at the same time, it doesn’t matter at all. We’re here. We’re together. There’s a Christmas tree being decorated by three slightly hyper kids. The children of my friends. They are beautiful.

The hostess of the gathering has her iPod playing Norah Jones, the most mellow of artists, putting me in a very contemplative mood. This circle of friends has been in tact for ten years at least, with most of the group having met over twelve years ago. We were then a motley crew of teens from all over Birmingham, varied backgrounds, varied interests, varied ambitions. And today, we’re all the same kind of different we always were.

I don’t think, at eighteen, any of us could picture whether or not we’d be close, eight years later. We might have pictured who’d probably be married, who’d have kids, who’d be the most successful. But I couldn’t have imagined the emotions I’d have watching the scene of our reunion unfold. Nostalgia, of course. We were all so young and beautiful once, so full of potential. It isn’t that we aren’t all still beautiful and potentially unlimited, only my own personal disappointments (in terms of career and beauty) weigh heavily on me. Self consciously, I realize I’ve fallen into my usual routines of observation. I’ve found a chair, my own corner, sip a drink, and watch, listen. I am deeply moved by the small interactions between old friends. There is much shared history here, when years of separation leave only slight signs of wear.

This is the sort of reunion I’m so glad we’ve had a chance to experience, before the hustle and bustle of reuniting with the other fifty classmates we graduated with at the Ten Year Reunion. It’s coming along here soon enough. But this is much better, much more relaxed. Less pressure. Mellow. Warm. With the folks I’m confident and comfortable around, no matter how crappy my job is, or how many pounds I’ve gained over the years. These are my friends. And it’s so nice to be together again, even for one evening. A reunion resplendent in its simplicity, a coming together in sympathy and in celebration, a moment to look backwards while realizing how much there is still to look forward to.

This is our reunion, and nothing planned in less haste with more fanfare could have been better.