How much chance in a lifetime that you reunited with your friends from youth that you have not seen for over 40+ years? How many of you barely knew your classmates during the four-year college? What’s so special about this reunion?
I am really not that oddball like you may have envisioned. I grew up in a family with seven children… and somehow I turned myself into a workaholic. I only showed up in the classes. Party and fun had never registered in my mind while I was busing between jobs. As a result, I barely knew anyone from the class, and the thought of going to a reunion seems absurd to me. However, thanks to my enthusiastic classmates who have made efforts to either visit me in Oregon and/or encouraged me via emails to participate in the event. So I went for it, honestly, with low expectations. I dreaded that I would have to break the ice and re-introduce myself to everyone. I would never expect that not only I was heartily welcomed by all my classmates, I also had a great time!!!
What do people usually do at a class reunion? Chit Chat, Drink, Food, Laughter, I thought. But this is not exactly the case. On the first day of our event, we had a meet-and-greet luncheon in a waterfront restaurant and an introductory and friendship rekindling party at a classmate’s house (cake, fruit, snack, and song). I met a dozen of my classmates (and their spouses) who I have not seen since college. It was a bit intimidating at first, but in just a few hours, I felt like I was part of the group for years. The nostalgic sentiment was overflowing.
On the second day, we separated ourselves into two groups and had a relaxing stroll at Long Beach and Laguna Beach to enjoy the Southern California charm. Regardless of ‘brown is the new green’ for this Golden State, her unbeatable luster remains particularly in this southern coastal region.
Oregon beaches are natural and peaceful while S. California beaches are colorful and dynamic. Having become a country-folk for 20 years, I was still excited about the beat, the motion, and the vigor in the scene. The wealth in Oregon county has established an impressive order and outlook for the area.
Close to dusk hour on the third day, we boarded a Carnival cruise at Long Beach. My last visit to Long Beach was more than 20 years ago. I vaguely remembered Queen Mary which is now a hotel and restaurant. How long is the beach? When the below picture was downloaded, I felt a bit out of breath. Now I know why it was named Long Beach in the first place.
The reflection of the city high rise buildings and palm trees on the shore in this blue hour is shimmeringly gorgeous.
Sun was down below the horizon. The solitary moon and a few dimmed lights quietly broke the silence of the evening. I knew dinner was ready to be served inside the cabin, but I lingered… It is so refreshing out in the ocean to enjoy a moment of solitude. In my mind, the glamorous chandeliers have no comparison with these few simple light bulbs.
I am not a cruise fan. The feeling of confinement and fear of overeating have often given me a No answer to a cruise tour, but what I experienced is beyond my expectations.
Yes, we ate a big variety of food including the ‘rare finds’ (frog, escargot, crocodile) and we did not miss any night shows on the cruise. But I did not see any of us hanging out at the bar or in the overly crowded pool. Apparently, my group was not engaged in getting drunk or drowning (in the sea of wet people). I was glad.
I am the one with a Caucasian husband and am more involved in American social circles. Not trying to be politically correct here, but Asians are usually stereotyped as shy and not social, hard-working but doing nothing (fun), academically distinctive but physically incompetent and the list goes on. But, you will soon change your mind.
One thing I want to point out here, all of my friends and their spouses are in perfect shape. Their fitness level, from my observation, has no different from the people in their 30’s.
Here came the Line Dance and I bet you are a bit jealous here to see how fit they look. Music started and dance was initiated. The movement is with ease, at leisure, and simply delightful. My body parts do not like to coordinate. Dance is not my cup of tea. I am glad that I can now hide behind my camera on such occasions.
One of the husbands has prepared for us 10 pages of our Oldies but Goodies, both in Chinese and in English. When the group was singing Oscar Hammerstein’s ‘One Day When We were Young’, I felt a small water drop rolling down my cheek. I cried then uncontrollably in the theater where the black and white movie The Great Waltz was on the screen. Now I am certain that my moment of emotion evolved from this precious moment with my youth friends.
The multiple pages of the songs have brought back that poignant nostalgia and hit me hard and deep. The folk dance to go with one of the old songs (高山青) we sang growing up elevated my yearning to trace the past… the bitter and the sweetness.
5000+ years of history do not exist in vain. When the group gathered, conversation subjects cover many. Friends share the current status of other friends who were not at the reunion. Well-being tips, for sure. Not just talking, it was in practice. I’ve noticed that almost everyone performs a routine exercise or adopts some sort of traditional Chinese martial art into daily life.
This is not for us to learn the steps for Salsa or Margarita dance. It is Tai-Chi, the slow movement with methodology goes a long way to greatly benefit our health. The proof(s) are right in front of me. I am a bit bashful to say that I might be the heaviest female in the group (while I am often perceived as ‘thin’ among the Caucasian crowd).
Shake it, rock it, or disco? Nop. I really feel like a country folk coming into town. This is the first time when I got to know this popular exercise among Chinese circles, it’s called ‘Baduajin'(八段錦), 8 steps of exercise that help to stretch all parts of our body. I saw it and I immediately fell in love with it. Chinese martial art is being demonstrated and at work on a cruise ship by a group of intelligent baby boomers.
Who said that beautiful skin is only the privilege of young people? Not here. We have a skincare consultant here, i.e. the pretty girl in our class with absolutely impeccable fine skin. She was revealing and sharing her secret – a fine skin heritage and a proven skincare magic potion. From the pictures I took, I noticed that skincare does not only interest women, men too.
Chinese usually don’t just talk, we work the talk. She was my roommate, the girl who inspired me to exercise more regularly. Every day she was up before dawn and her method of exercise is thorough and persistent. I was stunned to watch her constant movement for hours…
I came to a realization that nothing will help us to stay fit and healthy than a strong will to reach the fitness goal and perseverance that never fails.
If you have followed my blog, you know I have a big head, too big to fit the hats in regular women’s sizes. But I was told that I must be smart because my head loads more brain. I also have big hands and feet, for that my high school English teacher had his points: People with big hands are smart; Big feet, dumb. I have been zeroed out, I am just an ordinary soul.
However, my desire to look at pretty hats won’t cease. We all want what we don’t have. I’d followed this hat since I saw it at her house, and I finally nailed a shot at lunchtime. I love the picture myself and I added a bit of texture to blur the background. Don’t you like the perfect color tone in this image? and I wish if my head will shrink a bit as I grow older? haha
Ever since I retired, I dressed casually and put away all my jewelry. But, I think I am just about to change my mind after taking this picture. Look at this fair lady from head to toe. I feel like giving this image a title, 苗條淑女君子好述. (Gentlemen like to pursue slim ladies.) The background of the original picture was a dazzling ‘Las Vegas’ scene (the typical cruise ship decorations) which I found very distracting. I removed the background and applied layers of Texture to make her pop.
If you can look like this in your 60-something, wouldn’t you want to perform all these Chinese traditional exercises and keep up with your amazing outlook?
Besides the activities on the cruise ship, we also went on a couple of land excursions to Catalina Island where I have never been and I think these few pictures would help me to remember.
Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico, very touristy. What I found interesting is the few images below. From them, you know where my heart was. The Blow Hole reminds me of the Blow Hole in Hanna Highway, Hawaii. Just one day after we left there, a young guy was swallowed by a big wave while his picture was taken. My husband stood in the same spot for me to take pictures… am I feeling blessed?
I think these sparrows were waiting for more enchilada leftovers, glad that they were together for me to snap a shot.
Last but not the least,
This image has since stayed in my mind after I snapped it in front of a restaurant in Ensenada. It even came to my dream. If all of us say a prayer for them, I believe God would spare an extra second to bless them…