This past weekend, I attended my 15th high school class reunion.
As in, 5 more years and it will be 20.
As in, we actually sat and made plans for 20, because (like most adults) we recognize that 5 years really is not that long of a time and in fact seems to be a shorter and shorter time as we all become increasingly busy, busy, busy.
I didn’t attend my 10th reunion, so I actually hadn’t seen many of my former classmates since Graduation Day 1993. Okay, maybe there have been a few rogue sightings here and there, but for the most part – my adult life has been fairly high school friend free. This wasn’t by design or anything. I liked my peers. But my life sort of went a different route when I headed out for Nebraska the August after graduation, and I haven’t had the time to really “look back” since.
We had a very small class, attending Lutheran High in its heyday like we did. 17 classmates get to know one another extremely well over a four year time period. By the time we left the hallowed halls of LHS we knew precisely what made each other tick, and what made each other explode, laugh, cry and, you name it.
The entire experience was thought-provoking. What I have mulled over most is, why do people attend reunions?
Well. I can tell you what was not motivating me ...
I didn’t attend my reunion out of some odd sense of curiosity, although I admit that I was somewhat curious to see where life had taken my old chums. And I didn’t attend with some bizarre and juvenile agenda to prove my worth (isn’t it in Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion where Mira Sorvino’s character claims to have invented the PostIt?), although I was bestowed with the 1992 Homecoming Superlative for “Most Likely to Succeed”, which is an awfully intimidating title to carry with you into your reunion.
I went … well, why DID I go? I hardly go out at all anymore, so to take the time to get all gussied up, arrange with Papa to Syd-wrangle and head out to Winghaven for J.Bucks on a Saturday night suggests that I was fairly motivated to attend! …
I went because I am sort of weird when it comes to “old times.” You know the tune, Auld Lang Syne … well, the words always make me sort of weepy. That idea of remembering people who meant a great deal to us “way back when” … Of keeping a sense of one's past and the relationships of that past as a vibrant and important treasure in one's future ... or how is it that Harry talks about the song in the movie, When Harry Met Sally, “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don't know what this song means. I mean, 'Should old acquaintance be forgot'? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?”
Yes. Something like that.
Actually Baz Luhrmann says it really well in his well know “Sunscreen Song”:
"Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”
I think that’s why I went to my high school class reunion. These were people who knew me before. Before what? Well. Before absolutely everything! It was the “me in the rough”, the awkward me, the uncertain me, the me who kinda-sorta-maybe-thought she had the world by the tail, but was scared to death to shake it and find out she wasn’t really all that much to yell about.
For some people, returning to those who knew you before you “were” is probably cause for loads of insecurity because they worry that – maybe – they STILL aren’t. I’m not trying to say I am something – but I’m on the way. (And I hope, dear reader, that you are, too!) And reconnecting with people who walked along the road with me way-back-when adds depth to my still reaching roots. And I like that.
All in all, it was a fun evening. Nothing spectacular, nothing tremendously “significant”, but I won’t forget it. Looking around the table I was truly struck by how we all retain pieces of our younger selves. Yes, we all were different. Older. Grayer. Less hair. More weight. Lots of kids. Career oriented. But I also saw flashes of who we were. Certain group dynamics returned after just a short while. Mannerisms and tones of voice and senses of humor were pretty much intact. It was like this odd out of body experience – with our younger selves hanging back on the fringe of the room watching the older models enjoy a meal together.
And I think we liked what we saw.
The Class of 1993: (from left) Matt Peters, Amy Edinger, Brenda Barbieri, Christine Walsh, Matt Kramer, Erin Trinklein, Jon Frecks, Amy Linnenman, and Gretchen Staude