You’ve probably figured it out by now that I went to the big reunion.
I’ll admit: it was tough to come to that decision. I ruminated for months. And then, naturally, I stressed out about what to pack. (But that’s nothing new…I ALWAYS stress out about packing). One thing I knew for sure: I was packing my highest heels. I was so over my height issues – although I’ll always remember the remarks “How’s the weather up there?” and “Run, Spider Legs, Run!” Only they don’t sting the way they used to).
Halfway there, I longed to turn around and head home. Suddenly I had lots of passengers in the car, with loud, pesky voices pummeling me with things like, ”What the hell are you doing?” ”Why the hell are you going?” The voices grew louder and louder, until I wanted to pull to the side of the road and fling open the doors and yell “Get the hell out! If you can’t behave, you can walk home!” (Ah, a familiar dialog from when my kids misbehaved in the car when they were little).
But the voices retreated, my foot stayed on the gas pedal and I pushed forward. My so-called older self took over: Fight your fears! Get over it! Grow up!
And up until the moment I stepped into the bar for the pre-party (note to today’s youth: you did not invent that term) I was all jitters, doubting my decision, scared to death of seeing everyone, wondering if anyone would remember me.
The evening was beyond wonderful, and for so many reasons. Here are some things that attending my 40th high school reunion taught me:
- There’s a level of comfort in seeing old friends that’s tough to explain and even tougher to replicate. I felt the warm and fuzzies seeing my
oldfriends after so many years (a warmth similar to a hot flash, except you revel in it). And suddenly, I remembered all the good times we shared.
- There’s also a level of discomfort in seeing old non-friends – the ones you never cared for anyway – that is still very much present even after 40 years. Except that after all these years, that discomfort feels almost right, like a gut feeling you’ve grown to trust.
- The boys, many of whom were shorter than me (self-conscious about my 5’9″ height, I never wore heels back in high school) were now grown men, many of whom were now taller than me. What a surprise that was! (You’re all grown up! I exclaimed to a
boyman named Albert. Gotta love those 50′s names. And Albert, who I never knew in high school because I was too shy to talk to some boys, turned out to be a really sweet guy.)
- It was tough to recognize some of the men. A lot of them had lost their hair, and a bald mature face looks a lot different than a young face that in many cases wasn’t even shaving yet.
- It was easier to recognize many of the women, since as girls, we practiced – with makeup and hairstyles – looking like women. Many were just more grown-up versions of their younger selves.
- I am no longer self-conscious about my height. In fact, I no longer feel self-conscious about anything, like I did back in high school. I know who I am and I’m proud of it. (Isn’t age a great equalizer?)
- My fears of feeling nostalgic were realized only in a good way. There was plenty of laughing and reflection and reminiscing about the old days, what we did, where we hung out, how we acted, how we lied to our parents about whose house we were really sleeping at… oh, never mind. TMI.
- The biggest shocker was this: When I spoke of my parent’s divorce and how tough it was for me – how I felt embarrassed, ashamed and alone (divorce was so uncommon in the late 60s and early 70s) – everyone looked at me with an expression of shock. Turns out that no one, except for my best friend, had even been aware that my parents had divorced. The stigma and embarrassment I carried with me all through high school was, in retrospect, unfounded- and a huge waste of time, emotion and energy.
It’s one year post-reunion. I just returned from another weekend in my old home town. That’s right – we all had such a fabulous time that a bunch of us decided make it an annual, less “formal” summer event.
Only this time, heading out to my old hometown, my foot was firmly on the gas, with no second thoughts.
“I’m never, never ever going.”
Humbled, I ate my words.
I took my foot out of my mouth…and had a great time, to boot.