Way back in the depths of time, I met a motley group of malcontents in High School. Through some alchemical process I still do not understand, we all ended up as friends, and one of our common bonds was a strange new phenomenon called Dungeons and Dragons. We also adopted and tried out various other role-playing games, but D&D was the main focus.
We played the games regularly. At least once a week we would all gather at one house or another, surrounded by books, papers, little lead figurines, dice, discarded pizza boxes, and approximately five thousand empty soda cans. We would play far into the night, but there was at least as much of the usual teen-age nonsense as gameplay. A few people gradually drifted in or out of the group, but six or seven people were the core of the group.
After graduation, we gradually drifted to the far corners of the Earth- literally, because several of us ended up in the military. I moved around a lot during this time- I was one of those who joined the military. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also plays hell with relationships. We gradually lost touch with each other over the years as we all got on with our separate lives.
I managed to maintain my interest in gaming- and D&D in particular- during this time. To the consternation of my wife, I continued gaming well into my 30’s, steadfastly refusing to grow up and put away childish things. I found people all over the world who joined me in playing these games over the years. I enjoyed their company, the gameplay, and the camaraderie, but it wasn’t quite as good as the games I remembered from High School. After a few aborted attempts to locate some of my old gaming buddies from back when, I gave up trying.
Then the Internet came to the rescue. The web didn’t even exist when we were in High School together, but the rapidly-expanding use of the net into all aspects of American life gradually made it possible for several of us to find each other online. After a while, we decided to hold a reunion of sorts, and organized a get-together.
You know that old saying, “You can’t go home again”? Supposedly, things will never be as good as you remember when you try to revisit the friends and places of old. Balderdash! That gathering of old friends was the best time I’d had in almost two decades. We talked, drank, smoked, clowned around, and even did a lot of gaming. We caught each other up on our separate lives since we had last parted ways, and talked about some of those who couldn’t make it to the gathering. It was an ENORMOUS success, even if it was a bit of a strain on Dale and his family- since we were basically invading their house for almost a week.
The best part of all is, we stayed in touch. Every week or so, I’ll get a call from one or the other of “The Guys”, or we’ll chat online through a variety of channels. A couple of us get together in this way and “game” out individual tales (the game has morphed into an extended story with multiple authors). Last year, we all got together again- in Las Vegas. We talked, argued, drank, smoke, and generally had a wonderful time. Despite it all, we are still on speaking terms with each other. We still get together online or talk on the phone, and generally keep tabs on how we’re all doing. In a couple of years, we’ll probably have another gathering somewhere. “You can’t go home again” is a load of dingo’s kidneys.
In contrast, all of us heard about our 25-year High School reunion with a mild air of surprise- 3 days after the fact. Few of us, even those who still live in our old stomping grounds, have paid a great deal of attention to the Oafishal Reunions. The irregular Gatherings with the few friends who have kept in touch over the last quarter century mean a lot more to me than a formal High School Reunion.