Anne Tergesen

How much would you pay to travel back in time—not just to any phase of your life, but to a remarkably carefree one, before you had to pay the bills or care for kids? This weekend, my husband and I paid quite a bit to do just that. We went to our 20th college reunion. It poured most of the time. But as a surprisingly large number of our classmates gathered to drink watery Budweiser under a giant white tent in a courtyard, we didn’t give much thought to the mud splashing around our ankles. No one was totally untouched by time. But most looked remarkably similar to their younger selves—so similar, in fact, that I found it easy to delude myself into thinking I had actually been transported back in time to 1986. (Of course, I had to ignore the kids sleeping in strollers and running around in the mud, as well as the drunk undergraduate who kept asking me incredulously, “What year did you say you graduated?”)

Between the hotel bills and the price of admission to the reunion tent, the weekend wasn’t cheap. But it was worth every penny. My parents took my children off my hands. And I left my laptop at home. For the first time in a while, I had hours and hours ahead of me and no agenda at all. I was free to wander around a place I love that inspires feelings of endless possibilities. Amid gardens, gothic dormitories, and open bars, I drifted in search of conversation with familiar faces. Of course, we talked mainly about our current lives—our kids, spouses/partners, and jobs. But we re-hashed lots of forgotten memories, too, many of them pretty amusing. Talking with people, it was easy to remember why we’d become friends in the first place.

I left completely exhausted, but wanting more time to “hang out” with friends. I know the prospect of a high school or college reunion prompts most normal people to run the other way. But getting a taste of that freedom again—well, let’s just say I’d pay even more for that than I just did.