Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Reunion

My 40th high school reunion was this past weekend. I find myself, days later, still thinking about it. It’s a strange thing, going back in time for a night. As I’ve said before, all the bad feelings about high school went away a long time ago. It was fun to see people I knew in another lifetime. Some looked exactly the same…….seriously, exactly the same! How did they not age at least a few years or put on just a few pounds?? Most of us looked somewhat the same. Fortunately, we had nametags, and there was a lot of looking at someone’s nametag as we said hello.

Many things surprised me:
People I didn’t expect to remember me remembered me. These were not the grade school friends I grew up with. They were people I didn’t know until high school, and I did not know them well. I really thought I had done a pretty good job of blending in with the lockers, but apparently I didn’t.

Several people complimented me on my blog. I knew from their comments about various subjects that they had actually read it. That was nice. Yes, I’m writing it for myself, but I do like to hear when someone has actually read it, and I really appreciate it when they can relate to it in some way.

Someone said she always thought I was so cute. Whaaat??

This one cracked me up. Someone said, “Let me see if my recollection about Rolling Acres (my grade school) is correct. Jeanne was the smartest kid, and you were the second smartest.” Yep, I’m laughing again as I write this. Let’s just say they got the Jeanne part right!

Speaking of Jeanne, we spent a long time reminiscing about our years being best friends in grade school & junior high. We went different directions in high school – she developed into an even more well-rounded, successful student, and I just developed a bad attitude. But back in the day of slumber parties and beloved teachers and occasionally getting in trouble but not really, we had a lot of good memories, and I had a great time strolling down that path with her.

Several people said they wished they had known me better in high school. To that, I say thank you, but no, you really don’t. I was kind of an ass.

I have to say, a few hours before the reunion, as I was getting ready to drive to Peoria, a little bit of anxiety reared its ugly head. I won’t say it was on the level of a panic attack (I once knew them well, a post for another day), but I was really regretting my decision to go. I sent a picture of what I was wearing to my girls for a quick opinion. They reinforced my outfit selection and wondered why I was asking. I sent back, “I don’t know! I feel like I’m going back to high school!”

As I drove to Peoria, I continued to question why I was doing this. When I got there, I saw a number of people walking in, and I didn’t recognize any of them. I took a deep breath, and I walked in, and then it was all good. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who had felt that way, and I think we all were glad we went.

We reminisced a bit about life in the 70s. I recalled how my children once said, “Mom, how come so many stories about when you were young start with, ‘Ok, it was the 70s’?“ We laughed at that and we all understood why. We remembered parents who purchased kegs for our graduation parties, which seemed perfectly fine at the time. There were other parents who knew teenagers were smoking pot in their houses. Then we talked about how, as parents, we would never have even thought about doing that! I mean never! And that, girls, is why every story had to start with “Ok, it was the 70s.”

Then there were other alums who said, “I must have gone to a totally different high school, because I didn’t know about any of that!” That was funny, too, because they were serious.

I knew a number of grade schools had fed into our high school, but I had forgotten just how many. I think it was at least 10 schools. So I remember now how intimidating high school was at first. My kids all went to new schools at various grade levels, but they were with all the same kids. They weren’t all thrown together as we were.

Probably for the same reason, it seemed that a lot of people at the reunion gravitated to their grade school pals. Those were the people we really knew well. We knew each other’s houses. We knew each other’s parents. Most of us really had grown up together, and I did have fond memories of those days.

And parents were discussed – if they were still living, how their health was, which of us were caregivers. Most everyone had lost at least one parent, and many of us were now caregivers. Most of us had grandchildren or at least granddogs or grandkitties. A few had young children still, and we all had great sympathy for them as we discussed the joy of being grandparents and having so much fun and then being able to send those beautiful little ones back to their parents.

There were a lot of people who couldn’t be there, some because of conflicts, some because they probably didn’t want to be, some because they couldn’t be found, and very sadly, many because they had passed away. They were all missed.

Someone posted that she wished it could be an annual thing. And I have to say, Ms. Why-Am-I-Doing-This would agree with that, even if it’s a casual meeting at a bar kind of thing so that no one has to work so hard in planning it.

The fact is, no matter what kind of memories you have, when you have a shared history, you do have a forever connection. And it turns out, I’m really glad about that.