Reunion

 

 

Bluey sent the photo through the next morning.

 

Class of 76: squashed up together in front of the bar. Big smiles, glasses raised. It’s early on, so we’re still shiny and clean. Things got a bit loose later.

 

I’m kneeling down front, beside Jane. Still beautiful and sassy, in that 30s Hollywood starlet way, she and her family returned to Warrnambool from Queensland a year or so ago when Jane’s dad got crook.

 

Her husband Paul served with a mate of mine in Rwanda in the 90s, who came home with a chest full of medals and future full of PTSD.

 

MOC flew down from the GC. It’s his first visit to Warrnambool since we buried his brother, GOC, a few months back. He left fresh flowers at the gravesite the next day.

 

Julia jetted in from Auckland. She still has a sister in town. Wouldn’t miss it, she said.

 

Sometimes it’s those who leave who have a greater sense of belonging. Warrnambool is our anchor.

 

Kellie was the coolest kid in class – good looking, composed, a bit of mystery. Now, lines  around her mouth tell her story. But there’s defiance in her eyes and pride in her walk. Kellie is a survivor.

 

Slugga has finally moved out of the bungalow out back his parents’ house. And got rid of the mullet and landed a new job. He still has his disarming nature and dry wit. As someone remarked on the night, Slugga makes you smile.

 

Tase grew up with a handful of brothers; footy and cricket all year round. Now he’s got a houseful of teenage daughters. When things kick off at home, he grabs the dog and goes for a walk. Always bashful and quietly spoken, age has delivered a quiet, inner strength to Tase.

 

Like a few classmates, Tase went to the local milk factory after school.

 

Crispy was the four-square and downball champion through primary school. He mows lawns for the council now. He and Marns play cricket for Wangoon Thirds. Crispy’s wife reckons they speak a secret language only they understand. Crispy is George to Marns’s Lennie.

 

Fog invited me to his man cave next time I’m in town. Open fire in the backyard, a few beers, solve the problems of the world. Beautiful. He and his partner and their blended family live in the same street as my uncle and aunt. We shared a laugh at Uncle Jock’s obsessiveness towards his front lawn.

 

Janine arrived late after knocking off work and wrapped Kellie in a headlock. A bit rough and ready, Janine’s a single mum; five kids, two jobs. These days, she reminisces when driving around town, putting faces from her childhood to houses.

 

Everyone has had their peaks and valleys. But the night offered acceptance, friendship, and an opportunity to put things aside for a few hours. In a bond forged in the schoolyard.

 

Reunions aren’t for everyone, but I love them. They’re monuments along life’s journey. We pull over, reflect, enjoy the view. And give thanks.

 

Early next morning, Eloise slipped under the covers like a silent, little creature and rested her head on my chest. This is where I am now and wouldn’t want be anywhere else.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Played.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Wonderful Andrew.

    My class has never had a reunion, despite it being much talked about over the past 5 or so years. Keen for it to happen after reading this.

  3. Chris bracher says:

    Reunion box ticked Andrew. It’s a shame Crispy didn’t kick on…..downball/ four square champion of the world beckoned.

  4. Well played,Starks I admit my school has a reunion coming up you have given more reason to go thank you

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    ” a chest full of medals and a future full of PTSD” Powerful stuff Starkers. Downball was a very underrated game at school. Always struggled with the undercutters.

    Had a Primary School mini-reunion back in May with people I hadn’t seen for almost 35 years. Every person present gave each other a hug and were so open about their lives and our childhood memories. For a few hours a bunch of 47 year olds were 11 again – the smiles were broad. A couple of weeks later I was at the footy with two of them cheering on the Pies in the freezing cold as we beat Freo.
    Delightful work Andrew.
    Zatar beckons when you are ready.

  6. E.regnans says:

    Powerful telling..

  7. A story of poignancy really well told, Starkers.
    .

  8. John Butler says:

    Nice work Starkers.

    I have always been much more attached to cricket reunions than school reunions. Probably says much about my priorities and investments.

  9. Andrew Starkie says:

    Thanks guys. Love a good reunion.

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