Nine storytellers took the stage at The Cooperage to share their experiences reuniting with others, places, and even themselves. Keep reading for a glimpse of the night!
Patti Rosenberg started us off with a high school reunion she attended with her husband Stan, a wrestler. The night consisted of a detour, a 12X10 red wrestling man, and snarky comments from people of the past, leaving Patti and Stan in agreeance to never attend another reunion. Several years later, Patti was faced with an unexpected reunion when Stan died suddenly of a heart attack. At his funeral, over 75 wrestlers from all over the country gathered in his honor. Patti concluded that the real moral of the story is: you can never go home but you can always find your people.
Kevin McGee followed with a family reunion story. Every four years his big Irish Catholic family gets together and participates in a series of outdoor games. At this reunion, Kevin was forced to be a human shield in a water balloon toss that quickly escalated to a water balloon fight. His attempt to maneuver out of this position leads in an awkward situation with the wife of a relative. Ex Fabula guests got the inside scoop since, to this day, his family doesn’t know what actually happened
Joel Dresang shared a time he put himself in an awkward situation when he pretended to be someone else at a friend’s high school reunion. Joel, for the most part, seamlessly blended in as supposed classmate “Kyle.” He even managed to spark a memory for a fellow classmate that made her remember something wonderful about herself (although she eventually realizes that Joel was not who he claimed to be). Joel looks back on the night fondly, saying he felt like Santa Clause; he pretended to be someone else but be brought people joy because of it.
Jeri Vante also recounted a high school reunion. Jeri admitted she was shy in high school and didn’t go to many events so going to her 10-year reunion was a big deal. The prospect of facing her old demons was nerve-wracking but it felt like an important step in this new phase of life. At the reunion, Jeri reconnected with a guy named Tony and the night ended with an early/late breakfast at George Webb. “It was a risk that changed me” Jeri said.
MacArthur Antigua continued the night with a story about the first time he returned to the Philippines. Growing up, MacArthur’s parents tried their best to keep him and his sister emerged in their culture but assimilation made that tough. At age 27, his mom proposed they go back to visit – the last time he had been there was when he was four. MacArthur expressed that it was a trip that his mom thought would bring them together, but didn’t. That was until he saw his mom sitting with his uncle in hospice. That was the first time they had seen each other in 20 years, he couldn’t imagine what that felt like. It made MacArthur reflect on his regrets and miscalls with his family. And in that moment, he really loved his mom.
Paola Weise, wife of one of the co-founders of Ex-Fabula, described summer 2017 for her. She was in her hometown in the Dominican Republic and packed her bags to move to Washington DC and eventually Pakistan. She moved without her family, left her job as an attorney, and began working from home. For Paola, summer 2017 marked a reunion with herself. This reunion was special and more fun than she had anticipated. She went to coffee shops with her book, ate and drank whatever she wanted, peopled watched, and just enjoyed herself. Paola concluded that she felt lucky to have had this time to reunite with herself and encouraged others to do the same.
Deserae Constantineau’s story was about a conference that reconnected her with her identity and the arthritis community at large. In 1999, Deserae attended a young adult conference for people with arthritis and, for the first time in a very long time, saw people that looked like her. She was able to reconnect with people she went to camp with and meet others that she now considers family. Attending this conference made Deserae feel normal and invigorated. It was an encouraging reminder that she could make it through another year of health and social challenges. Deserae ended her story by thanking Ex Fabula for helping her and her family share their arthritis stories.
Mark Steimle told us about a 50th class reunion he attended. At the reunion, Mark reconnected with his best friend from grade school and discovered they have even more common and niche interests now than they used to… or at least that’s what he thought. Over the summer, Mark and his family end up visiting his grade school friend during their travels. During this visit, Mark realized they don’t have as much in common as he thought (and are on very opposite ends of the political spectrum). Mark noted that the second time around was an uncomfortable reunion, but not a bad one. He ended by saying that memories from the past don’t necessarily mean that the future is going to be the same.
Meghan Koven, our last speaker, shared a reunion that took place during winter of 1993. Meghan was on holiday break and studying abroad in the south of France with a couple of friends. From there, she continued her travels by herself to connect with two of her college friends in Vienna. The plan was to have a big reunion for New Year’s eve, but things didn’t exactly go as planned. Meghan ends up arriving in Vienna at 8:30 pm on Christmas eve, alone and with no money. An hour later, a man in his 60s with a long coat emerged from the train tracks followed by two men wearing sunglasses (at night). Panicked, Meghan went over to the bank of phones and, miraculously, ends up finding a single coin that allowed her to make one local call to her friend. Meghan is picked up at the train station shortly after and is thankful to this day.