Catching Up with Old Friends

Reunions contain minefields of information and judgment, laughter and reminiscing. I attended the wedding of a rowing mate this past weekend with old friends. Thankfully, it was not one of those weddings where I left in the evening thinking well, that’s not going to last.

Between the respectful church ceremony, the bayside reception, the dark and stormy cocktails and the traveling hors d’oeuvres, I started to catch up with old friends, many of whom I had not seen in over five years. I circulated with white cane in hand, chatting with a few individuals myself or in pairs with my husband.

We sat down at the long white tables to an elegant dinner of salmon and steak with potatoes piped onto the plate as caterers always do for fancy meals. The live band played on and as dinner turned into dancing, people started milling around again to talk. I left my cane at our table, feeling confident about the layout of the party and the amount of light to navigate safely around without it.

“Great,” I would answer in sincerity as people asked how I was doing. I wondered how many of them were looking for more than a cursory catch up, noticing I used a white cane, but trying to be discreet about my disability.

My rowing friends knew me well before I underwent most of my detachments. Years had passed since college graduation: I married, moved, changed jobs, bought a house, and got a dog. Those are all pieces of the machine of small talk so the longer I talked with anyone the more likely I was to introduce my disability.

The shadow of social media missed my disability. Neither my husband or I use a personal Facebook account, there were no status updates going out to friends close and distant about surgeries, orientation and mobility therapy, magnification software or even mishaps on the bus.

There was just me standing there smiling as I held my cane, chatting with friends. And yet, I think my demeanor and the conversations I shared with my rowing mates and friends said more than any mass e-mail or tweet or timeline could have during my adjustment to blindness.

I suppose this is what it feels like to go back to a high school reunion and find that while we all go through unexpected changes in life, we all stay the same when we see each other again.


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