Making Connections

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, walking the dog at night.There were two Karens and two Robins in my sixth grade class of 1963 at PS94. We met in Manhattan last weekend for our second reunion.
“Who else is a cancer survivor? Who became a teacher? Who went into medicine?” Fifteen of us threw questions across the huge table at the Lincoln Square Steak House. “Who’s retired? Has anyone filed for social security yet?” We noted who was gay, who was single, and who had “not changed a bit” over the fifty-two years since we graduated. In the corners, we whispered about who had died. And also, probably, about who had lost her daughter.

My claim to fame in grade school used to be that I was voted the best artist. Now, many of us had art and writing in common. I would always be the only one with a sibling who was also a classmate, but I was not the only one who had married and divorced more than once. In how many more ways were we connected? How were we different? With my eyes, I stroked the familiar faces that yet contained the smiles of the children I’d grown up with. It was like coming home to long lost cousins.

“We should have asked if anyone else has a living parent,” my sister said later, still trying to find connections.
“Or who has a tattoo,” I added. “Or who’s Republican and who’s a Democrat, maybe.”

After the dinner, several of us walked the few blocks from the restaurant to an apartment owned by one of the Karens. I would never live in the city, I thought as I trailed the others down hallways and into the elevator of the thirty-floor building. But we soon opened the door to a beautiful space with large windows, artwork all around, and a serious but comfortable area devoted to work. The TV had been left on for the dog. A fuzzy white Westie greeted us. It looked like my dog. The place looked like my own home.
“Entertain yourselves while I walk my dog,” Karen said. But I grabbed my coat and followed her back down the elevator and hallways, and out into the streets of New York City where, like silent magic, from all directions, solitary people walked their dogs under bright streetlamps.

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13 thoughts on “Making Connections

  1. SusanB

    You stand alone for being the only one who lost a daughter. But having girl friends for so many years means you’re good people Robin and easy to keep in one’s life.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Actually, Susan, there was only one girlfriend I kept up with all these years. But now I’ve rediscovered these others and am planning to keep up, even if only online. And I know you will understand when I say that I’m glad no one else lost a child. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Cheers to girlfriends!

      Reply
  2. Lucy Bergstrom

    You’re lucky to still have a connection with your grade school classmates. My 50th high school reunion is next year and I wouldn’t go if they paid me. I’m still friends with one or two classmates, and that’s enough. It’s wonderful that you have a fond connection, though.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well I wouldn’t go to my high school reunion either. I’ve never attended any of my college or high school reunions. Not sure why I was drawn to this. Or why the others were either. And there were some who wanted nothing to do with it. But I’m so glad I did. I was called “elfin” and “dainty” and “highly talented.” It was worth it just for the compliments alone. Cheers, Lucy.

      Reply
  3. Elaine Mansfield

    Great to see you stepping out, Robin. I only remember a few names of classmates in the 6th grade in Mexico, MO. And then I moved to Michigan. Staged it good. It’s an important talent for a writer. 😉

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Elaine, if you ever get the chance to go to a 6th grade reunion, I highly recommend it. I haven’t heard of too many 50th or 52nd 6th grade reunions, but what a blast. The thing that is really amazing about it is how some people, most actually, look so much like who we were as kids. There was only one person whose identity I couldn’t guess when she first walked in, and that was due to hair-color and the loss of baby-fat. And once we started talking, it was like the 52 years had hardly happened. Staging – I need to learn that important talent. Cheers!

      Reply
  4. Annette Corth

    Another winner! I love the image of the two little white dogs asking each other about their political affiliation, jobs, number of divorces, etc.

    Reply
    1. robinbotie.com

      Yes, they do seem to be having a real communication going here, as opposed to the humans. The whole shot was staged as I didn’t take very many photos during my trip to NYC this time. At least the dogs knew what to do to look believable even if their humans did not. That’s kinda how it was on the dogwalk – the humans said a brief hello as the dogs sniffed and made eye contact with each other. Sad, huh?

      Reply
  5. Karen Gershowitz

    I can’t stop thinking about the reunion either, but from a very different perspective and am writing a piece about it. I’ll send it to you when it’s written. Thanks for all the memories.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Karen. Thanks for visiting my online home. So great to hear from you. I can’t wait to read how YOU viewed the reunion. It’s funny how certain little aspects of a thing sometimes become more memorable or more meaningful. Thank you so much for inviting us up to your place after dinner. And hugs to Cully.

      Reply
  6. Barbara

    Beautiful description of our wonderful reunion! Thanks for sharing with the world, Robin. It was great to see you again!

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank YOU for making it possible. And for taking such great care of me and Laurie. Going to Rye instead of staying in the city or Long Island was a really good idea. I got home in less than 3 hours And I hardly had any traffic. Next time I must take more photos of us all.

      Reply

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