Of all my bright college days, the brightest were the few days I spent just months ago at the 25th reunion of my class. Now, a thank you note (via blog) I sent to my college classmates was published in the Yale Alumni Magazine as “You ’82 (in two days).”
Here’s the text…
You ’82 (In Two Days)
By Artie Isaac
You are very dear to me now. My memory of you had faded over the past 25 years, into a kind of cartoon. But our reunion changed everything.
I had never been to a reunion. I remembered — when I was a student bartender long ago — the 25th Reunion being the happiest class at the bar. I had secretly vowed to return for the 25th.
I waited for 25 years. Then, you said, “Come to the reunion.” You promised to attend, at considerable cost and inconvenience. And so we were back at Yale, together again after 25 years apart.
You warmly embraced everyone, enriching every attempt to cross a courtyard. You recalled important moments, long forgotten. Two weeks earlier, I thought I had no memories of Yale. You brought back a flood of rich, detailed memories of us, by uncorking my hippocampus beneath the temporal lobe. (You taught me that, too.)
Perhaps you had never known my name. But you smiled at seeing my face again.
In conversations at all hours, you described your work and your diversions. You demonstrated your dignity, by being honest about yourself. You shared your stories of challenge and crisis — and determination, confidence, and reinvention. You suggested that I become a stand-up comedian. Or a rabbi. Or both.
You filled everyone with pride with tales of your victories. You showed little photographs of your children. You sang their names. You shared details of how you faced profound loss.
You accepted thanks for the secrets of life that you taught me in the dining hall and the Dramat. You said you’ve quoted me for 25 years, reminding me of words I’d long forgotten.
You laughed that Bart Giamatti, welcoming us in 1978, said, “I know what you are thinking: admissions made a mistake.” Admissions made no mistake with you.
You diagnosed my mild case of bursitis. You gave me your best insight and advice. And you asked for mine.
You validated my performance in Our Town, an effort I long ago dismissed. You filled me with such gratitude that tears welled in my eyes.
You spoke with me, when 25 years ago I was too nervous to even approach you. (As a classmate said, “I’ve enjoyed more conversations with women during these two reunion days than I had in four years.” Me, too.)
You traded intelligent arguments about God, country, Yale, and water buffalo milk. You recommended books and movies that are dear to you. You encouraged me as an intellectual by strengthening my brain, my emotions, and the connections between them. My body belongs to Columbus, Ohio. Because of you, my intellect belongs to Yale.
You walked in paths both well trod (in museums) and forbidden (on rooftops). You helped me recognize that Yale gave us enormous freedom to misbehave.
You told me that my love letter — the one inviting you to attend the 25th, especially if it was your first return to Yale — actually inspired you to come. (I am thrilled by this.)
You said, “I love you.” And “I miss you.” You said it in hugs. You said it in simple words. We danced.
You confirmed what I had hoped: though we are out of touch, we have a relationship. Though we are geographically dispersed, we are bound to this campus in a way that tingles our spines. Though I have trouble remembering your name, I love you. (Can that be? It is.) You taught me that reunion is more than a moment; it’s the reason. Being with you again — our re-union — is why I went to Yale.
Most of all, you came to the reunion. You decided to come long ago, or you decided to come at the last moment. Thank you for coming. I’m really glad you came. You are the most remarkable, thrilling, intimidating, inspiring group of people I’ve ever known.
May the next five years match your growing skills with challenges. May we be together in even greater numbers in 2012. Thank you.