Friday, September 7, 2007

Reunion Recap

* Detail from the band uniform I wore (1983-1987); the same style worn by my aunt 10 years earlier and my mom 10 years before that.

I had a blast. It was truly far more fun than I imagined it would be. I’ll start at the beginning. I got there late. I thought it started at 7:30, so I arrived at 7:45. It actually started at 6:00. My friend Scott, who I had threatened within an inch of his life to be there or else, just about killed ME when I finally walked in. He said he’d tried saving two seats forever and finally gave up and gave them away. No biggie, I didn’t end up sitting down for another 3 hours because I was too busy running around and hugging people and talking to them. Actually, people were coming up to ME, which I found kind of strange. I wasn’t the most popular person in high school; I mean, I think people knew who I was because I was in a lot of activities and because I’m 6’0” tall and kind of hard to miss. But I just don’t think of myself as the kind of person other people flock to, and certainly wasn’t in high school. Anyway, it was just nice. Not only did I talk to people I’d been good friends with but hadn’t seen in literally 20 years, but also childhood friends who I didn’t talk to in high school because we’d drifted apart, joined different circles. That was just as nice.

I talked to so many people. My dear band friend Scott, who lost most of his hair and is even funnier than he was in high school. We talked about our mutual love for
David Sedaris and hate for Republicans. I saw Brenda, another band buddy who is now divorced and has been living with a woman for the past 9 years (Scott still thinks it’s a “phase.”) I saw Jennifer, who I went to summer camp with every year, and who I played Barbies with, mostly at her house because she had a room just for her Barbies and their accessories (including the coveted Townhouse). Her house was so cool (her dad was an architect; one of the few dads with a professional-type job). I saw Liz, a lawyer who now stays home in Connecticut with her 9-month-old daughter (that was the other thing—how many people have babies and kids under 5—I thought for sure I’d be the only one that didn’t have teenagers). I saw John and Tricia, who I’ve known since before I can remember. He had a George Hamilton tan and still wears sweater vests; she had the same haircut. They are still best friends. I saw Mel, who’s in much better shape than she was in high school. She has 3 kids and is married to a farmer, and she is raking in the cash doing pharmaceutical sales. I saw Mark, my Hearts Dance date, now an optometrist and father of two. He said I looked exactly the same, god love him. I saw Connie and Troy, friends from band and church who’ve been together for probably 23 years and have 5 kids. She’s the music director at the church I grew up in; he’s lost most of his hair and reminds me of his dad. I saw my elementary school friend Terri, who was a “C” cup by the time we were in the fifth grade. She married a guy named Terry. I saw Missy and Leslie and my cousin Shanna, all from Girl Scout Troop 473. We laughed remembering all our times camping together as little girls and then teenagers, the number of times Shanna’s mom, our troop leader, yelled at us in her raspy smoker’s voice for the hours we spent talking instead of sleeping.

There were people that weren’t there I would’ve liked to have seen. Mostly Laura, my high school BFF whose Christmas cards are now my only contact with her.

There were moments of weirdness, like seeing Angel, a girl I’d admired in the first grade because she wore cute little smocks with cartoon characters on them (my mom never let me wear clothes with characters on them, something for which I am now grateful). She was probably the most popular girl in my class, had always been popular even back in elementary school. She was very nice to everyone and, of course, the head cheerleader our senior year. Everyone loved her. I really didn’t speak to her by the time high school rolled around; she was a cheerleader and I was a band and choir kid. She married a guy from the class ahead of ours shortly after high school, but it ended quickly in a nasty divorce. I was so surprised that she approached me, gave me a big hug and said she was so happy to see me, that she always wondered what had happened to me. She is remarried and has three kids and lives in Columbus (one of about 4 people I talked to that night who doesn’t still live in our hometown or at least in the same county). She looked exactly the same, except for the deep wrinkles on her forehead and around her mouth. (She was very tan and always had been. Let that be a lesson to you, girls: wear your sunscreen)

That’s the other thing—the way people looked. A couple of people looked exactly the same. Most people looked like an aged version of their high school selves. And then there were several who looked nothing like they did in high school. I spent a good part of the night with old friends playing “who’s the guy” (as in “who’s the guy in the blue shirt…” “who’s the guy in the suit…”). Eventually one of us would figure it out and the whole group would yell out “OH!!!!” All of this, of course, was fueled by much alcohol. The best place to stand was back by the bar, so I could talk to everyone as they waited for a drink. (I had three vodka tonics on an empty stomach, which might explain why I had such a good time.)

Leading up to the night, I had some attitude about it, thinking that I had something to prove, that I needed to show I was now better than “them,” and that “they” should feel bad for making me feel “less than” back then. I had none of those feelings that night. I was amazingly unselfconscious. Just genuinely pleased to see people. It was nice to see everyone paired off, with families and jobs and homes. The squirrelly little kids who did goofy things like toilet papering each others houses, now all grown up. It was nice to see us excited to see one another, despite all the years that had passed. Even the popular kids, the party kids, seemed nicer (although the really hard-core ones stuck together and didn’t make an effort to talk to anyone else; I’m quite certain they all see each other regularly, all still drink together). Even so, I found it amusing and rather endearing, instead of annoying. Good for them—they found their people back in the day and have remained loyal to them ever since.

Lots of my friends now tell me that they give me credit for going, that they couldn’t imagine going to their high school reunion. Too many bad feelings about that time, or feeling too much like a loser now. I do understand that. But I highly recommend going. If the too-tall band geek can go and have a good time, anyone can.

1 comment:

slim said...

I am so glad to hear you had a great time! You are brave -- I haven't been to a reunion since the 5-year mark...and that was a *long* time ago!