The restaurant was crowded and they added a table to the end of a booth to make room.
We had arrived the night before. It was our reunion and it had been forty years since we graduated from the high school in the small town where we grew up.
That town was a factory town. My classmates were the children of the men and women who built the engine magnetos that won the second World War and the electronic parts that helped astronauts land on the moon.
We grew up together in turbulent times. We were too young to understand why our parents cried after learning that President Kennedy had died in Dallas. We were in second grade when Martin Luther King and Bobby were killed.
Jane Roe won her case against Sheriff Henry Wade when we were in seventh grade. Later that year Nixon went to China. He resigned in disgrace before ninth grade began.
The war in Vietnam began before we were in kindergarten. Seven boys died within weeks of each other during the Tet Offensive and the last Americans left Saigon from the roof of the embassy in the spring before we entered high school.
We did what children everywhere did. We finished our homework before bedtime and walked or bused to school. We fretted over braces, pimples, bad hair and clothes that didn’t fit. We worried about the SATs and thought about college, careers and someday getting married and raising families.
Tonight we spoke only of the good times we had shared years ago. Frisbee games and prom dates and dancing to slow music. Messages left on yearbook pages, indoor track records and traveling to Florida with the marching band.
We smiled and laughed and did not cry.
The restaurant was empty when we said goodbye. The dishes were cleared and the extra table was pushed back to where it belonged, removing too soon the last sign of a perfect reunion.