Saturday, July 28, 2007

High School Reunions

It's Reunion Time!

For high school graduates everywhere, the end of summer brings not only cooler weather, but the grand event of the High School Reunion. Some schools have them every ten years, some have them more frequently. My high school has had both a 5 year and a 10 year reunion so far, and this August is celebrating our 20th.

Twenty years! I look and feel young for being almost 40, but I still have a hard time believing that high school was twenty years ago. It's cliche to say, but it really does feel like only yesterday. The friends I see on occasion still look the same (for the most part), and we pick up conversations that were going on when we were still in school... as if we'd never left.

But the reunion itself is different. Although most people hang out in the same cliques (which is to be expected -- you go to see old friends, right?), there is an odd sense of wonder. Not the wonder of a child walking into a toy store, but rather a wonder of "what did we all do with our lives?", and "did we do the best we could?"

Everyone is an adult now, many with children, and those crazy kids you hung out with in the halls are now proper adults with adult responsibilities and adult reservations.

Even though your usual time with your friends is "just like old times", at the reunion, it can also be like a convention where you recognize the faces and the names, but you have no idea who these people really are. You remember who they were, but you don't have a clue as to who they grew up to be. Many times there is an uncomfortable space between you and people you knew back then. You wind up silently analyzing each other -- for happiness, success, looks...

Old rivalries spring up, and old romances crash and burn. It can be a blast for some, but it can be awkward as hell for others. And, heaven help your partner. If you bring your husband or wife, unless they went to the same school, they likely won't know a soul, but they completely understand that they are going to be under scrutiny all night... "why'd he marry her?", "where did she find him?". You think you have it rough getting back together with old memories? Put yourself in your spouse's shoes for a moment. They're a stranger in a strange land.

But don't get me wrong. Reunions do have their pressures, but they also have their fun! You're drinking, dancing, catching up, teasing each other, and goofing off all night. It's the one chance to go back in time and be in high school again. You get to learn new stories about your old friends, and re-visit old stories as new friends. That guy you hung out with in shop class may be a totally different person today, and you never know, you might like him a whole lot better.

It's a great opportunity, for those who can make it. And that's one of the hardest parts of the reunion, getting everyone there. Some folks can't afford the travel or the time off, and some folks just flat-out can't be found at all. The reunion team usually does a good job of locating everyone, and those they can't find often get word passed to them by friends along the way.

That's how I found out about our Milton High School 20 year Reunion. Friends have been contacting me through my website, my MySpace site, my blog, my parents, by phone, and by email to see if I was going to make it to the reunion.

And, in all honesty, I'd love to make the reunion, but I might not be able to. I'll be in Oregon working on my Vanishing America Project and might not be able to get away. Maybe I'll send them a picture of myself and they can save a seat for me at dinner.

To all my friends from Milton High School:

I wish I could be there. I'll miss you then, and I miss you now. Raise a toast to "good times" for me. And have a blast!

1 comment:

scott said...


I wish you could make it. I am so envious. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until retirement to take a trip like yours. We will miss you and I will be sure to relay your successes.

My little girl (Lily Claire) and I were checking out your RV. She asked if you were going to take it to Disney World. We will be there in October at Fort Wilderness if you want to join us.

Be careful.

Scott Westbrook
Milton High Class of 87