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Karen O'Keefe of "On Second Glance"

About On Second Glance

Karen O’Keefe has been a freelance writer in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery County, MD, since 1984. Prior to that time, she worked for a committee in the U.S. House, a public relations firm and as a Congressional press secretary. Since 2003, O’Keefe has been a regular news reporter and columnist... Read more

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St. Pius X H.S. Class of 1972


St. Pius X H.S. Class of 1972

Photo | Rick Lubrant

I left my sister’s house in Atlanta at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. My flight home to BWI Airport was at 6 a.m.

Her suburban neighborhood was silent except for the pattering sounds of soft rain, and the gritty sound of my plastic sandal soles clipping along on the wet pavement as I walked under a streetlight to my rental car at the curb.

I was leaving with a weekend of new memories – time spent with my sister and her husband, being pampered, eating out, and napping on my favorite couch at her warm, familiar house. There was also an alumnae weekend high school football game and a party for my 40th high school reunion.

A lot had been packed into three days – many people, many friends.

But at 3:30 Monday morning, I felt alone, like the only person not asleep for a hundred miles into the darkness.

I started the car engine with the radio on. There was the husky voice of Stevie Nicks. She was singing “Landslide.”

“Can the child within my heart rise above?
“Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
“Can I handle the seasons of my life?”

Listening, I sat there in the rain on the dark street, car door still open. Not ready to leave yet.

I thought about the reunion that I had attended two nights earlier.

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

You are 58 when you attend your 40th. The class is in full-on grandchildren mode, you find out at the reunion, if you did not already know. Most of the grandkids I heard about seem to be under six years of age — which felt to me like a relief. My own granddaughter is 16 months and I still have to remind myself that I am somebody’s Nana.

I realized that at your 40th, if your hair is not gray or white, it might be colored (speaking mostly for me).

We who were children in sunny days together four decades ago are not young now.

Thank goodness, however — as we all told one another – we “look exactly the same.”

We really do.

We were the class of 1972, the year of Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” the year of “Brandy” by Looking Glass and “Saturday in the Park,” by Chicago. We listened to Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and heard the roar of Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman.”

The musical theme of our prom was also by Chicago – we danced to “Color My World” at the top of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel. The memory is a bit hazy – I was drunk.

I attended my first rock concert – The Allman Brothers in January 1971 at the Municipal Auditorium at Georgia State University. I am still a bit embarrassed to report that I wore a wool pleated skirt and knee socks.

I thought people I now know were smoking pot, were inhaling the sulphur fumes of matches. At 16, I knew nothing about rock music and even less about drugs.

The Vietnam War and the controversy around it were raging while we were in high school, but – immersed in high school football games and many activities — I remained largely unconcerned. There was talk of the draft, which ended in 1972, and I remember some awareness that the draft’s demise was a good thing for my male classmates.

At the party, we posed outside on a tiered patio for our class photo. Five or six of my classmates had to volunteer to sit in front, on the hard stone floor. It took several minutes to line up the volunteers – finally one woman and several guys stepped forward.

I was not among them. I was sure that once I got down on the ground, I would not gracefully be able to get back up. At 58, knees are often an issue and I, personally, need to get into better shape.

My classmates who posed in the front row were my heroes that evening.

Retirement age is rushing at us like an anvil falling from the sky. Through smiles and hugs, I sensed that we were reassuring each other that we would be ready. We will face what comes, not in the same place, but at the same time.

And we will still be there for each other.

At the party, we touched each other and knew – somehow — we will never not be part of the class of 1972.

“But time makes you bolder,
“Children get older,
“I’m getting older too; I’m getting older too…”

Two days later, an unseen hand had Stevie Nicks sing this to me – and to my classmates.

We’ve sailed through changing tides for forty years.

I can keep sailing. We will sail with each other and together, be ready for whatever comes.

I plan to go back in five years. We’ll be 63 – older, bolder and better.

Karen O'Keefe

About Karen O'Keefe

Karen O’Keefe has been a freelance writer in Atlanta, GA and Montgomery County, MD, since 1984. Prior to that time, she worked for a committee in the U.S. House, a public relations firm and as a Congressional press secretary. Since 2003, O’Keefe has been a regular news reporter and columnist for The Town Courier, an independent biweekly newspaper based in Gaithersburg. Her blog, “On Second Glance,” explores everyday life and current events with insight, grace and humor.


8 Responses to “Landslide”

  1. On October 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm responded with... #

    Keep sailing my friend, keep sailing!

    • Karen O'Keefe
      On October 4, 2012 at 10:38 am responded with... #

      Just following you.

  2. On October 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm responded with... #

    Karen—I loved the article and you put my thoughts and feelings about class reunions into lovely words.

    • Karen O'Keefe
      On October 4, 2012 at 10:39 am responded with... #

      Thanks for reading — and relating. K

  3. On October 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm responded with... #

    I saw you briefly at our reunion, said hello quickly and goodbye too soon. It was hard to talk and connect since there were so many faces and such loud music. I guess that’s how reunions go. It was fun to hear someone’s laughter behind me only to turn around and recognize who that was 40 years later. ( Anita, Jamie) That’s how I recognized them- by their laughter.
    Take care, Karen and I look forward to reading your blog.

    • Karen O'Keefe
      On October 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm responded with... #

      I saw you too — let’s talk next time for sure.
      What a great thing it is to recognize an old friend by her laughter. In the midst of change, some things stay with us. Thanks for sharing.

  4. On October 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm responded with... #

    Love reading your blog. You draw pictures with your words. I can see what your describing and feel like I’m right there with you. Keep on sharing!

    • On October 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm responded with... #

      Karen, Thanks so much for writing this .I was not able to attend the reunion but I feel I was there after reading your written words. I too identify with Steve Nicks words, I am getting older too. It is so comforting to know you and my other dear friends are with me. Looking forward to reading more!!! PS and seeing you in five years if not sooner!!!

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