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Affinity: A Tribute to the PCHS Class of 1981

October 30, 2011

By: Carole D. Hicks (October 30, 2011)


There is an old saying, which many credit to Native Americans as advising, “You can’t really understand someone else, unless you live their life or walk in their shoes (so to speak).

 On that same note, the word, “affinity,” has also been lingering on my mind a lot here lately, especially as I’ve been part of a team that has been planning/coordinating our 30th High School Reunion.  During this past year of planning, coordinating, researching and actually implementing the events, there have been grand moments of epiphany for many of us.  “Affinity” … and “walking that mile” have come to mean a lot more after this experience.

 Besides meaning a “natural liking or attraction to something,” affinity also denotes a relationship by some other aspect than blood or kin.”  Connecting with old friends from high school and elementary school, learning of their journeys that included both successes and failures, and realizing that regardless of how things seemed on the surface, there is no one who really has that much greater advantage over another in this human race.

 OH, we try to have that advantage … but when a moment of tragedy or bad circumstances come our way, it all comes back to the basic human needs and means of survival.  Looking back on those high school years … you have the beauties that you expect will always be timeless, but alas gravity sets in for each of us.  Those with extraordinary athletic prowess eventually attest to swollen knees and ankles, bad shoulders and aching joints.  And, as for the brainiacs that we looked up to as a source of pride to boost our collective intelligence, we find that like the most of us, they also have to call on those with more practical expertise/skill in other areas.

 The point is … though we each take our own path in life, and experience the joys and downfalls in many and diverse ways … there is a “liking” that will always be able to bring us back together, hopefully with a sense of connection and intimacy from a life shared from cradle to grave.  The great thing about affinity is that it does not have to be “your whole life,” — it can be just a portion of your life that offers a source of influence, enjoyment and perspective.

 As we spent a few moments remembering classmates and faculty who have passed away since high school, a profound perspective was gleaned while recalling the funeral of one of these friends.  As part of the memorial service, the song, “In The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics was played.  Until that moment in the funeral, I was unfamiliar with the song, but listening to the words that day … I was (once again) forever influenced by the life of the young man and true friend who had passed away.

 The one line in the song, “you can listen as well as you hear,” rings true too often in all of our lives.  Sometimes, we truly only give attention to the surface … how people act and react, their appearance and their mannerisms, their quirks and their shortcomings.  What we often fail to recognize is that the very same things that we are struggling with … they are too.  What we know of them on the surface could be a front or a manifestation of what is going on inside.

 While most of us in our graduating class spent at least four of our formidable years together, different groups of us spent more than ten … sometimes twelve years together.  There are not many people in our adult lives (except family) that we spend that much time with.  So certainly, we have an affinity group.  

 We probably had chicken pox, mumps or the flu around the same time.  We cheered, played ball, sang songs, and danced together. We started driving, working and dating around the same time. Chances are … our hearts were broken about the same time … and in our small community, probably by the same people.  But the truly most unique thing is that … it only takes a nano-second, a smile or brief eye contact to “re-connect” and be a part of that “affinity” again — no matter where our “sandals have taken us.”  And at that moment … “we understand each other.”

 Each of us has left a mark or influence on others in the group.  We have the opportunity to make amends for those “marks that left a scar,” and we have the opportunity to use what we’ve learned in the past thirty years to continue to influence in positive, regenerative ways. 

 Maybe back then, we didn’t realize the “common bond” that we shared. After all, we “were” just kids.  But now, WE ARE an affinity group. We are not all related by blood or kin, but we are more than friends … we are the PCHS Class of 1981.


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