As of this writing, I attended my 45th high school reunion not long ago, along with my wife. She was part of the class two years behind me and she knew some of my classmates, so she was comfortable being there, unlike a few spouses I saw who looked very out of place.
I was a little apprehensive about going. I wasn’t the social butterfly in school and didn’t hang out with a lot of friends. I wasn’t part of that top rung “beautiful people” crowd. I’ve seen a few classmates on a regular basis around town, so at least I would recognize them. Many I grew up with all the way back to kindergarten. I guess I was sort of a loner in school, with a small tight circle of friends, and I always had an after school job and other interests.
A class Facebook page had existed for a few years and a fair percentage of my classmates posted there, or at least read the entries. Thanks to that page, I connected with people I didn’t know or even remember, who, after all these years, shared common interests with me. As a writer and author, I found out a few of them were now published authors as well. Too bad we didn’t connect with our writing interests back in school.
We had a large class and so many of the “kids” were strangers to me. Some I only knew by their names when attendance was taken, or just by their pictures in yearbooks. So many I never spoke a single word to. And I’m sure quite a few had no idea who I was.
I felt like such a dummy when I didn’t recognize people. If I couldn’t get close enough to see the name tag, or there wasn’t one, I drew a blank. Don’t you hate that?
Many seemed to know me, although, like I said, I didn’t know or even remember. I had long hair in school but wasn’t into the hippie thing. I was more of a “motorcycle enthusiast”. Maybe some saw me as an outlaw. I still sport long hair, almost to my waist, even at my age. (I’m 63 and can still grow it, unlike some of my “follically challenged” friends).
I didn’t really change all that much after 45 years. Maybe a few pounds lighter, and a few additional routes on the roadmap of my face, but I still looked like “me”. One girl who was a hottie back then, the crush of every guy in school, was still gorgeous. Another one I had a crush on, but was always too chicken to ask out, still looked great. A few gained a pound or two but most of the girls survived the years well. Some didn’t and a few once-hot chicks were now soft, fertile, and matronly. The guys were a mixed bag. Some were relatively unchanged, some now sickly, while other once-muscular jocks were now fat, bald, and funny looking, and many of the geeks from back then matured into handsome men. Sometimes there is justice! And plenty of grey hair, with various attempts to hide it, both good and bad.
So many people to talk to, or at least say hello, and so little time to do it. Everyone found a circle of friends to chat with and the mingling pretty much ended.
The buffet food was okay, but not in danger of winning any Michelin stars. Beer and wine and soft drinks were included in the small price we paid to attend - just show the bartender the bracelet we were issued with our name tags. Someone made T-shirts and had them for sale.
It was certainly great to see people again, but so many drifted off to distant places and different interests over the years. Did I really have much in common with them? Maybe a few, like our new little circle of published authors, but so many I never knew then, and still don’t know.
A good number of them moved away. One girl came from as far away as Anchorage, Alaska. Not a few came from Florida. Arizona and Texas and California were popular locales to relocate, fleeing our small town right after school due to college, work, or the military. One is a career Army officer and came home from Germany. Three veterans of the Navy shared their experiences while standing at the bar. Some still in town were policemen, along with a several EMTs and firefighters and municipal workers. Many sent their regrets via video and email and couldn’t attend for whatever reasons.
I understand we lost a few over the years. We had a class of over 300 and we lost fifty-one at this writing. Sickness, accidents, so many reasons. Someone made an online video featuring our departed, with their high school yearbook pictures. Very moving.
So many of us said we’d have to get together and do this again. Let’s stay in touch. Just like we say at funerals. Empty promises we probably can’t keep. How many more will we lose in the next five years until our 50th reunion?
I remember when my parents attended their 50th reunion. Small town, they were the classic high school sweethearts and graduated the same year. I couldn’t imagine how long a time that must’ve been. Fifty years! But here I am, facing my own 50th in just five short years.
It was a nice experience and it was great seeing the “kids”, at least the ones I remember and those who remember me. There wasn’t enough time to catch up, but at least there were a few hours to reminisce and see some old friends.
I remember our 20th reunion. It was a three-day affair with an informal Friday evening get-together at a local bar and restaurant, a dress up dinner dance on Saturday night, and a Sunday afternoon picnic at a local park. It gave more people the chance to attend, rather than just a one-night affair.
I wish them all health and happiness until we meet again in five years.