Wednesday, July 9, 2014

High School Reunion/Glory Days

Permit me some personal meandering today.

This year is my xxth high school reunion, and there is one person from my class who has devotedly embarked on the task of tracking down as many of our classmates as possible (kudos, Pam!). In this era of social media, finding people is slightly easier, although my experience is that there are still a large number of people who haven't embraced technology (or consciously avoid it).

High school. What kind of memories does that bring back for you? For most of us, that was an awkward stage. Some of us had the benefit of good friends to carry us through, whether they were carried over from a close-knit grade school/middle school class, or new friends we made at a new and bigger school. Some of us stumbled our way through, not quite fitting in. And some of us were primo athletes and found a way to stand out that way. Which category do I fit in? {wagging my finger} No, I'm not throwing everyone into categories, and like everyone else, I am not that easily defined.

In the years since I've graduated, I've only been to one reunion. I planned to go to the first one, but I had just had a baby and wasn't in good enough shape to attend. The second came at a very tumultuous time in my life. By the time I finally went to one, the turnout wasn't very good, although I did see several people that I actually knew.  My graduating class was something like 300 people, I think (the people who know can correct me if I'm wrong).

We've all moved past that awkward phase in our lives, discovered who we are and who we are meant to be. It's fun to look back on some of those times, and some days its heartbreaking. I remember a friend who was killed shortly after graduation, a young man with a bright future and a likeable disposition whose future was cut short. I remember going to the movie theater with a friend and seeing one of the toughest boys on the football team in a row ahead of me visibly frightened by the end of a horror movie with a shock ending.

Over the course of time, I've noticed changes in society. I had a teacher/coach who used a terribly offensive phrase when she referred to the team I was on, and none of us were offended by it. It was a joke, and taken as such. For one of the reunions, I employed that phrase (it was a fond memory!) and yet I was censored (and rightly so, I should add) because in today's world, using those words is taboo. Archie Bunker would be shunned today. We may have become more sensitive to other people's feelings, but at the same time, perhaps other people's feelings have become too sensitive. One group of people will vilify others for the way they act, while they employ the same actions without consequence. It gets confusing for me some days, what's right and what's wrong. But that's another topic.

High school. Okay, I'm going out on a limb here and baring my soul. I was the quiet type. Yes, I made friends, and I even made a name for myself on the tennis team. But I had some experiences (don't we all?) that made me a bit more reserved. So going back to the reunion? It's not a priority for me. I loved reconnecting with some old friends (a special hi to Scott who made me feel comfortable at the last reunion - the first friendly face in a sea of strangers), but I also re-experienced some of that "outsider" feeling when I said hello to people I considered friends and they had no recollection of me whatsoever. The "remember me? we had math class together with Mr. Byers." and you get a blank stare, or the "I remember Mr. Byers..."

Someone told me once that our thirty-year-old selves would never recognize our eighteen-year-old selves. So true. Back to that social media thing - I had a best friend in grade school, and she and I drifted apart around middle school. Years later, we reconnected on FaceBook. Who knew she liked horses? At this stage of our lives, high school is a shared experience. The friends we made we have likely kept through the years. A class reunion is the chance to reconnect with people, or a chance to make new friends who have lived through the same things you have. We have all grown beyond who we were, developed new interests, become "real" people. Maybe we don't remember each other, and that's okay. We are all different people than we were then. A reunion is an opportunity to make new friends who have lived through what you have, who know some of the people you do, who grew up where you did. For some people, it's better to look at it as a new experience instead of an old one.


  1. As an addendum, the theme in Rekindling is high school friends, reunited after nine years.

  2. I went to my 50th reunion recently and had a blast. I didn't have a lot of friends in high school, but everyone was reconnecting. (And I discovered a bunch of people would say, "I've been watching your Facebook page")

    1. I've been reconnecting, too. Fun to see what's become of everyone after all these years! And I've enjoyed the conversations I've had ahead of the reunion.