Typically, I write about design or anything that pertains to it. But, as I reflect on my summer and the amazing time I’ve spent reconnecting with family as well as long-time old friends, I chose to write about a different topic. I’ll call this article Reunions By Design. The power of time spent with both family and friends is an unbelievable lift for your spirit and general well-being. As we continue to age, the gatherings that result from those connections, in particular, should be treated in an almost sacred way, in which each time we’re together could possibly be our last . . . Carpe Diem!
July was filled with exactly those types of connections. My partner and I traveled to Sheridan, Wyoming for his 40th high school class reunion and also Mom’s 80th birthday celebration! Being back in Wyoming, we were reminded of the majestic beauty of the wide-open spaces, along with that panoramic view of the Big Horn Mountain Range, which includes the valleys, plains, and ranchland that sit beneath them. The wetness of the season has left the grassland lush and picturesque. Traveling to Wyoming, the place where we both grew up, I found myself reflecting on this question. “Would we ever return and live out our retirement in this place that somehow fills our hearts and calls us home?” But then I think, “Maybe Palm Springs, Tucson, Wyoming . . . hmmm? Cold winters or scorching summers - possibly both?”
Anyway, I digress . . . back to the high school reunion. Sometimes it’s ok to realize that we’ve been quite happy with our decision to have left our old stomping grounds and “got out,” so to speak. We noticed that the cowboy-easy lifestyle of those who never left, compared to those who had gone on to experience the world and then returned, were naturally, completely different from each other. There’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping things simple! We realized that possibly the ones that chose to stay were, indeed, the lucky ones. Nevertheless, reconnecting with familiar faces and old memories is an amazing thing!
There was a time in 1976 when my partner Greg hosted a disco party at his family home in Sheridan, Wyoming, complete with a disco ball that replaced the dining room chandelier and a ceiling covered in aluminum foil. Attended by about 20 of his nearest and dearest, they enjoyed a night they would not soon forget. With some efficient work to repair minor damage to their home, Greg’s parents never knew!
This summer, during the same weekend in Wyoming, we were lucky to celebrate Greg’s mother’s birthday. She turned 80, and all the children came home to joyfully honor their family.
Next, we were off to Tucson to attend my 40th reunion of having traveled and performed in the international group Up With People, in which we sang, danced, and traveled the globe. Our cast has become an extended family of our life together and gives us the opportunity to reconnect with friends from everywhere. One friend was happy, as well as relieved to be there, considering the conditions in his home country of Venezuela. Another from Tel Aviv, Israel, told of a much different land than we see on television. Another, from Canada, came to her first reunion since 1979. Yet each of us picked up where we last left off, sharing memories and similar stories of our time together, and once again, we nurtured these relationships that have been woven into our lives.
Even if you did not have a chance to travel, performing as I did with 125 outstanding individuals, all of us have been a part of something that connects us closely with a group of people. The family at the end of your cul-de-sac in your home town, friends from your grade school or high school, or the choir in your church - it is critically important to reestablish relationships with others from our past, as it works to strengthen our future! We understand that the years we’ve known one another will allow us to become more authentic as we learn from each other.
To sum up my thoughts - reunions by design can be just two people, a few families or many, several friends, or a long-lost classmate. I know I’ve been made richer because of the people that have graced my life in the past and continue to be a part of it. These relationships, dear friendships, have influenced my retail and interior design businesses in immeasurably positive ways. And now, social media has allowed us a much easier opportunity to see each other more often - the ‘likes’ on Instagram or Facebook and the birthday wishes that may come from a neighbor you rarely see. Let’s face it, as Barbra Streisand sang, “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”
I’m heading to Asheville, North Carolina, for a design industry reunion to meet up with an inaugural group of other fellow interior designers from across the country for another designer experience where we’ll share ideas, listen to experts speak, tour factories, and enjoy a guided tour of the great home and gardens of the Vanderbilt Family, The Biltmore. With all that packed into our agenda, I’m most excited to be with industry friends and share our camaraderie and thoughts as we navigate an ever-changing business climate.
Have an incredible fall everyone! As we approach the holidays, begin to plan your get-togethers and reunions, large or small. It’s good for your heart and your soul . . . create your own “Reunions by Design!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR RICH SCHELL
Rich Schell Interiors
1731 Mt. Washington Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80905