It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years since I graduated from high school. So when I found out that there was going to be a 35-year reunion this weekend, I figured it would be a fun thing to go to. Even if it would be an epic journey to get there.
‘Home’ in this case is Ridgewood, New Jersey. I lived there starting in 1972, and graduated in the class of 1977. I haven’t been back there to visit since my father retired to San Diego after my mother died in 1994.
I was able to get a good deal on airfare with jetBlue for a flight from Burbank to JFK. Now, JFK is on the wrong side of New York City for a trip to New Jersey. But it was a good deal, and it was worth it to not have to fly out of LAX. I figured that flying into either Newark or JFK would involve dealing with a mega-airport, so being able to go out of Burbank, with its cute little 15-gate terminal was worth it. Also, it’s closer to my house. So we set the alarm for early, and we headed over there for the 7:15 departure.
The flight out was pretty easy. We only flew in a circle over Pennsylvania for a few minutes before we got clearance to come into JFK. It was raining, and I think that had incoming traffic backed up a bit. But we landed pretty much on time, and after we collected our bags, we headed off for the next leg of the journey.
They built a train to JFK since the last time I was there. That was convenient. We rode that to the Long Island Railroad’s Jamaica station, where we caught the first train into Manhattan. That was easy, aside from having to carry our suitcases up the stairs to the platform. It’s well-known that I believe elevators are for wimps, but I’m willing to make an exception when I have to carry a 37-pound suitcase.
When we got to Penn Station, we walked just a short way to find the New Jersey Transit section of the station. We had 10 minutes before the next train left. Too bad the line for the ticket machines took 15 minutes. But since it was just a bit after 5:00 PM, there were lots of trains running. So we caught the next train out to the new Secaucus Junction station in the middle of the swamp, also known as The Meadowlands. Building that station is easily the best idea they’ve had. It cut a good 45 minutes off our trip, and saved us from having to take the train through Hoboken. So after just a few minutes wait there, we got on the fourth and final train up the NJT Bergen County Line to Ridgewood. The whole trip on the four different trains had taken just under two hours, which really isn’t all that bad, considering the distance we covered. And in NYC traffic, a car probably would have taken just as long.
When we got there, we walked one block to meet up with my old friend Steve for dinner at The Office. We had some food and some beer, and we recovered from the journey. We had some laughs and just generally caught up before it was time to go across the street to the Blend Bar for the Friday night party.
The Blend had lost its liquor license and closed last Tuesday. But Paul, our fearless organizer had contacted the owners and arranged to just rent the space out as a hall for a private party. So we all just chipped in some money to cover the rental, and Paul had arranged for an open bar, as well as a band made up of people from our class. They only had about three days to practice playing together beforehand, but they were actually quite good. And of course, they played all the music we remember from the mid-1970s that was the soundtrack of our high school days.
I got to see my old friend Chris there. This was the first time I’d seen him since I went to his college graduation back in 1983. That was fun. And I got to see all the other people I knew and didn’t know from high school. I wasn’t very social back in those days, so it was good to catch up with the people I knew, and to meet the people I didn’t know, and to find out that they’re really pretty nice people after all.
By the time midnight came around, the party was still going, but we were pretty tired from the day’s epic journey. Chris gave us a ride to the hotel where we were all staying for the weekend. It was a fun day.