Weeks ago I blogged about whether or not to attend my upcoming 20 year high school reunion. I detailed the specifics and asked readers to weigh in on the issue (via the post SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO?) Thanks to many of you for offering your opinions and encouragement (and even bigger thanks to my folks for getting me a free hotel room), I made the decision to – GO FOR IT!
I spent Thanksgiving Day in Maine with my family, cooking and feasting, and the rest of the weekend traveling to & from Philadelphia for this “once in a lifetime” event. And as promised, I’m BACK to blog all about it! WOOT! I’ll try not to dwell on the drive – which for a normal person would have been grueling but for someone like me (with Meniere’s) was just shy of hellish, and instead focus on the PARTY. My 20 year high school reunion in a nutshell? CRAZY FUN. Truly one of the most unforgettable and surreal experiences of my life (drive included).
Picture yourself traveling back in time… 5 years.. 10 years.. 15, 20… You step into a room filled with former classmates, and…
From the moment I arrived at the reunion, I was transported – not just back to high school, but all the way to childhood. Greeting me at check-in was a friend I’d known since I was 5, who’d slipped a Van Halen poster into my 6th grade desk to impress me. There stood friends I’d known for YEARS, people who’d played with me as children, laughed with me as adolescents, and Yes, even dated me as teenagers. Most of my very best friends were in attendance, all of us reunited under one roof. And seeing each of their faces, changed after so many years, and yet so fundamentally the same, was worth every bit of the travel agony I had endured.
My 20 year high school reunion was amazing, not just because of the memories it brought back, but because of our collective present. Teenage insecurity, awkwardness and fear be damned! Each of us returned to this reunion armed with 20 years of personal growth. Regardless of career choice, whether married or not, childless or not, rich /poor/ or in between, all of us are now (thankfully) adults. And at age 38/39, most of us seem to like ourselves.
And you know what? It shows. From the get-go I was astounded by just how great everyone looks! Sure, we’ve all aged, but on the whole we’re far more attractive now than we were in high school. Why? Because 20 years later… we’ve grown up. And not just up; we’ve grown INTO ourselves. As teens we thought we knew everything, but we spent more time wondering what others were thinking than ever truly thinking. We worried, we picked, we agonized over minutia. Time has erased many of those petty concerns, replacing them with understanding and PRIORITIES. We’ve faced challenges, we’ve made accomplishments and we didn’t need to waste the night trying to prove anything.
Instead we enjoyed each other, and ourselves. We made chit-chat with those we recognized, we delved deep with those we’d truly known, and I for one came away changed. That’s what happens when you reunite. You can close a chapter on your life with a smile, and without regret. Whether you’ve told someone they were special, or said you were sorry for a past wrong, reunions are an opportunity to explore another side of yourself. A former side, finally at peace with the present. It was a wonderful night.
Huge thanks to the reunion committee for all their hard work, and to the many people whose photographs I’ve reprinted here — thanks for the memories!