My thirtieth high school reunion was amazing. Embracing many people, I was moved to tears, speechless with awe, amused, warmed, and cajoled by friends. Although we hadn’t seen each other for sometimes even 30 years—friends that somehow I may have even forgotten their name or face—they returned to my heart with joyful memories and fond regards. Past issues melted with love and forgiveness, and forgiveness of self. Words and insights will come later on just how profound this experience was.

These friends are like manna for the soul. These friends are the ones who love you no matter what. I had been waiting for this reunion for such a long time. I asked some friends for forgiveness for my clumsy socialization in the past. A few revelatory facts about my life were surprising to some—but I carefully revealed them mostly as an example that nobody is above making mistakes. We sometimes make choices in our life that result with a steep learning curve attached to it. And then God helps us turn things around for the Good. We are all equals. And this was very evident.

Living in India is very different from living an American lifestyle. Once again, coming back to the US allows me to experience a reverse culture shock. An example of this, the one that was so striking at the reunion, is that in India men and women do not touch very much in public, unless they are husband and wife, brother and sister, parents, or other senior relatives. The national pledge of India begins with,India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.” People in India are expected to conduct themselves as thus, brothers and sisters. And that is the assumption that I made with my American brothers and sisters. After my arrival, I offered a few handshakes, which felt strange. Later I gave hugs. I prefer the hands-off approach as in India, not even a handshake, because it feels safe and because I know that “liberties” are not taken. Conservative? Maybe. My husband even seems to think so. In the future, men and women will view each other as brothers and sisters, eventually.

The bindis that I brought were tiny gold-studded fashion bindis, and soon my women classmates were calling it “bindi bling.” I affixed them on as many women’s foreheads as I could find, as a way of sharing a blessing and a common kinship. Some returned, “Mine fell off, may I have another one please?” and “Oh, you are the one giving these out! Cool!” For those of you who don’t know what a bindi is, traditionally it is a red or black dot of varying size that covers the spot between the eyebrows, also known as the third eye. An ancient Hindu philosophy and science governs the size and placement of the bindi.

Inside, I noticed my thoughts and feelings. I noticed my observations, “Wow, she’s a great conversationalist. Pay attention and learn how she guides the conversation” or, “How am I going to visit with everyone?” or, “How can I fathom what my friend is telling me right now?” Mostly I was thrilled to see everyone again, and was missing those whom have already returned to God, or whom were not allowed to attend. People told me wonderful things. I laughed a lot. There is so much more to say about this reunion, but I don’t yet have words for it. My classmates came from all backgrounds and all corners of the states. We are a spirited bunch, and our enthusiasm made way for good conversations.

Ukiah High Class of 1982, thank you for showing up and thank you for participating; thank you for showing me how important it is to stay connected.