Those were not the feelings I expected to feel. Nostalgia was what I most expected; and I did feel nostalgic, to an extent. Awkwardness was a possibility, but was quickly ruled out when I actually got up the nerve to say hi to people. Each of the individual people were lovely, and it was nice to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while (a long while).
The elementary school reunion at the restaurant was a lot of fun. Lots of re-meeting people. The advantage to this is that you get to act like good friends because you knew each other so long ago, but you get to toss out all the awkward things that happened because you were 12, and now your digits are flipped.
What happened later was what happens at every gathering of people who all have a mutual acquaintance, who isn't present and is weird. A few brave ones start to make jokes at this person's expense, and everyone laughs and nobody stops them. I contributed to the "nobody" who stopped them. Was it because I didn't have an immediate connection to the joke's target? I hadn't seen them in years eight years either. Was it because I hadn't seen these people in years, and didn't want to ruin my good, comfortable impression that I could tell I had from their occasional smiles? I can by no means say I'm better than anyone else who was in that room; I've hurt people before. I felt as soon as I left the after-party that I should have said something. After all, what's the worst these people could do to me? Un-friend me on Facebook? I couldn't have condemned them; that would just incite people to anger and not to thought. If I had told them gently but unflinchingly that what they were doing was destructive, I might have angered some people, but there's no doubt people would start to think. Especially the ones I could tell who were like me (to an extent) and not entirely approving (on the inside) of all the mudslinging.
If you were one of those people in the room... I'm not pointing fingers and saying that you're a terrible person through and through. I'm expecting at least a few of you will stumble across this. What I am saying is that making fun of people who aren't exactly following the norm, for whatever reason, is destructive. You have no idea what that person is really like if you're saying these things about them. If you're making fun of them, I would assume you've never been in their position.
I feel that there is a need to call this kind of thing out... of course, I'm no poster child, but I strive to be more and more bold about these things, to stop people from tearing each other down needlessly and destructively. And I would hope that anyone who knows me would feel the need to point out to me my own hypocrisy that I might improve myself.
All that to say... I was angry and sad on the drive home. More angry at the human tendency to be nasty than at that group of people in particular, though that was the event that sparked the fire in my head. I cried out to Jesus a lot on that ride home, especially during the worshipful songs that came on the speakers. I felt very broken, but very motivated. I had gone to the reunion thinking it would be a good witnessing opportunity, but it didn't really happen the way I had imagined it. It never does. On the ride home I was assured that this was definitely for a reason... there is no such thing as truly wasted time when you're a Child of God. Time can only seem wasted until your eyes are opened to purposes much bigger than you ever hoped or imagined.