|Sunset in Bakersfield CA|
Of course the 50-year reunion of East High's Class of '66 had to come in the last few weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.
What a challenge: to gather from all parts of California and the nation but not talk about politics, a week after the Republican Party had spun into disarray over the Access Hollywood video and audio tape.
Someone had posted as a goal on Facebook, "Remembering not to say everything that pops into my head," and I clicked like on the next suggestion about avoiding politics this weekend.
We did a good job, but in the last five minutes of three days one of us felt compelled to speak.
"Remember the little people," one of my closest friends from my high school years said to me privately.
"Okay, I will," I said, puzzled. Medically challenged really short people? Pets? We hadn't been in touch for maybe twenty years.
"Tell your husband too because the media are ignoring us," she continued.
"Who are the little people?" I asked then.
"The people who support Trump. They call us names but we're serious, The media spreads lies about him and us, but we're still going to vote for him. I don't care about what happened eleven years ago."
"Yes," I said, switching into careful listening-not-speaking mode. "You care about the future of the country."
She continued, explaining that government regulations and paperwork are hard on small business owners like her and her husband, and Hillary would raise taxes on them.
"Yes, my brother had his own business, and he was angry about the hoops he had to jump through," I said. "He's going to write in someone from South Carolina."
She continued: immigration, Benghazi, Hillary's close ties to Wall Street.... My friend will be working in Arizona to get out the vote for Trump.
Suddenly we were called to pose in a photo, and the conversation ended.
What a hard time for the nation: when friends, family members, church members disagree on a viciously contested presidential race.
I respect my friend and her husband, their hard work in the business they've built up, and their political choices.
May this time of contention pass quickly... may the democratic process win.
After all, our nation was founded as both a republic and a democracy.