I just got back from my 40th high school reunion and had a great time. This is the third major reunion, including the 20th and 30th class reunion. From what I can gather, people either love or hate class reunions. Loving reunions seems very subjective. While I have been to three reunions, my husband has never attended any of his…I asked him “why not?” His class was at least 600 kids and mine was half as big. I have known many of the people in my class since kindergarten. My husband felt that he has kept in touch with the handful of people he cares about and with such a huge class, he doubted he would remember many of them. In addition, these were not the kids he spent his entire childhood growing up with. That seemed reasonable. I never considered class size as a determining factor that would cause someone not to go.
I do not live where I grew up so going home for a reunion during Thanksgiving Day week means expensive holiday airline tickets, but for the reunion, I just had to turn my head on the ticket price. I did not really like high school either, so going to the reunion, for me, is not returning to some sugar sweet memories that I am trying to relive. I only dated one boy in my class for the most part and that was only for a few weeks before he dumped me so I was not going to check up on old boyfriends. I was not really a member of any of the cliques…I hovered around the fringes. I was not a follower…and some of my best friends were in the classes that had already graduated by the time I was a senior. I was not popular, yet I was not a wall flower. I had to overcome morbid shyness and that was pretty hard. I really was glad when I graduated and soon thereafter I moved away forever and did not return for 15 years, that was a very long time. I did love where I grew up and being on the other coast for so long without returning gave me recurring dreams, one particular dream was of walking down my street and into my yard…I had that dream until I actually took that walk again and this time when I pinched myself to see if it was a dream, it was not, OUCH!
Over the years I kept in touch with several of my friends. I always had a lot of joy learning what they did with their lives. It was a lot of fun watching each of our lives unfold. Some of us had to press restart after failed marriages. When I heard of the 20th reunion, I was excited to return and see where everyone had landed in life. I was fresh on the heels of my divorce and lived on the opposite coast, so I was 3000 miles away. I have to say I had a great time.
What I noticed was that some of the people I did not notice much in high school bloomed later and some of the ones who bloomed in high school had already begun to fade…some of the popular kids succeeded and some found the peak of success back in high school. It was just fascinating to see just where folks were in life. I think the most fun part was just how people had mellowed out. People I never spoke to in high school became fast friends. Old friends were still friends. Friends I expected might not be here had actually survived life and become successful, who knew?
At each reunion there are lots of hugs, lots of smiles, and lots of catching up. None of our reunions have been fancy or pretentious…I think it is safe to say we are more interested in talking to each other than worrying about making it a big fancy party. This last one was the most formal with a buffet dinner. Each year there are faces I knew instantly and others that left me guessing and asking a classmate, “who is that??” Overall, I find reunions to be very uplifting. Sometimes, they are sad when you realize how many classmates have already passed away, as did my best friend and reunion buddy who past in the last several years. Or, you learn of others who have suffered from severe health issues and continue in their struggle. Life takes its toll. Yet I marvel in watching folks champion these issue with their own personal strength.
I realized that this 40th reunion is a real turning point. The next 10 year event will find us all at age 68. We can feel like we are not really old yet…but by 68 we will be certifiable old folks. Most will be retired by then; still more will have passed away. This was the year to really enjoy having the community of our childhood because the next one will find us remembering more and more of those who are no longer with us. I was disappointed that many chose not to come, because I truly do love to catch up with people. In the meantime, we have Facebook, which I find to be a wonderful tool to keep me connected to all kinds of friends, especially those who knew me way back when.