How could it have been 20 years since high school? After all, it’s not like I graduated, went to college, went to grad school, got married, got a job, moved to Seattle, bought a house, went to my 10-year reunion, got divorced, bought a condo, got married again, sold a condo, had a kid, quit my job, and found another or anything.
I mean, I hadn’t even cured cancer yet or gotten my Nobel Prize, or, more importantly, lost the 20 extra pounds I’ve been carrying around since Kiddo came along. I did remember to get my nails done and my eyebrows waxed, though. So that should have counted for something.
High school had its highs and lows for me. I got to develop my writing skills and was selected editor of the school paper for my senior year. I successfully auditioned for the chamber choir and the colorguard, even if I never realized my secret dream of being a cheerleader (yes, seriously) or had a date to Homecoming. I had friends in high school, but only one really close friend. I spent a lot of time convinced that the other girls were snickering at me behind my back, and maybe they were, or maybe I was just being paranoid.
But really the lows weren’t all that low; it’s just that when you’re a teenage girl living through them, it feels like your social standing is going to determine the rest of your life. I was looking forward to the reunion in spite of, or maybe because of, those insecurities. Heck, I wanted to show everyone that I was no longer the nerd who couldn’t get a date. Yep, I’ve moved all the way up the social ladder to Software Geek. At least I had a hot date to parade around.
As the reunion got closer, though, I started getting nervous. What if no one remembered me? Worse, what if they remembered me, and didn’t want to talk to me? What if my clothes still weren’t cool enough? What if once again I tried too hard to get people to like me? I honestly did want to go, but I wanted to go as a success story.
The first part of the reunion was Friday evening family picnic. I shouldn’t have worried about not being remembered, because as soon as I walked in the door I was recognized. Someone even told me I looked just like I did in high school. I talked to a lot of people, but chickened out at approaching others. At the end of the evening, as Kiddo was starting to show signs that he’d had enough, I found myself looking forward to the next night’s adults-only dinner.
Undistracted by kids, we were able to talk to more people, and I learned a lot more about what others have done with the past 20 years. Many people still lived in our hometown, while a bunch of the rest of us had migrated west. Some people had put on weight, others had changed their hair color or lost it altogether. Some people still looked as amazing as they had back in high school.
No one had cured cancer, and there wasn’t a Nobel Prize winner among the lot of us. But there were successful business owners and employees, and happy parents and spouses, and people who’d traveled to interesting places, and people who were doing things we’d never expected twenty years ago. There were a lot of people who were happy with where they’d found themselves, and who were having a great time reconnecting with old friends.
By the time the dinner and dancing ended, I was sorry that it was over. I wanted to talk to the Homecoming Queen and the cheerleading captain again. I wanted to make amends with a few people. I wanted to find out more about what everyone was doing, and where they had been.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. There seemed to be a lot of support for the idea of a 25th reunion, and one friend in the Seattle area has proposed a local mini-reunion.
Twenty years ago, I didn’t have a lot of close friends among my high school classmates. I came away from my reunion hoping to change that, before the next time.