“I don’t want to brag or make anyone jealous, but I can still fit into the earrings that I wore in high school.”-Author Unknown
And thus I attended my 25th high school reunion this past weekend. If the earrings that I had worn back in the 80s (big, big bangles, yikes) weren’t so viciously outdated, I would have sported them because, well, I can still fit into them. So there.
Reunions are a collision of emotions.You want to go, but you don’t want to go. You are just. so. curious. One of my good friends, upon entering the venue, let out a nervous sort of chuckle and said that he was weirdly nervous about coming to the event that night. A few of us exchanged the classic “what are you wearing?” emails before hand and I noticed that most folks, myself included, bee-lined to the bar within minutes of arriving. Whatever it takes, right? Thank goodness for gin and tonics.
I think that showing up and walking in is the hardest part (isn’t there one of those life-lesson quotes that goes something like that?…90% of life is just showing up). Unless you are the one with The Master List, you don’t know who is actually going to be there, so it ends up being a somewhat bizarre version of “It’s Your Life”. Who will you see? And, more importantly, do you want to see them? It’s amazing how so many people can stir up so many memories that had been forgotten (buried? suppressed?) for so long. Shared a class with him, got into a minor car accident with her, made-out with this one, went to Prom with that one, almost failed Bio class with this one…and holy cow, I haven’t seen (or even thought about) most of these faces for two and a half decades. Brain overload.
The other part that is so strange is that there is both a comfort and a newness present all at the same time. These were certainly the people who you spent at least four years of your life with and with whom you have a wealth of shared first experiences, but in not seeing them for so many formative years afterwards-the ones in which we become “grown ups”-these familiar faces have become new faces. Physical bodies have changes, lord knows, but the personalities have formed, experiences have weighed in and, thus, new adults emerge. Old and new blissfully rolled into one.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
So walking into the venue, you are met with the “new ” faces, the grown-up faces. Do I remember you? You grew! Where is your hair? Man, you lost a lot of weight! Slowly, you see the teenager in those smiles. And then, as soon as the first laugh emerges, you are transported back to homeroom and are being shushed by the presiding teacher, the missed years in between falling by the wayside.
“Nothing is as comfortable as an old friend.”
It may very well be another five years until the next reunion when you see these faces again. But for one evening, the past and the present are divine bedfellows. You can enjoy the luxury of shared sentimentalities and teenage silliness, but do so armed with the wisdom and the experiences of many years of growth. Perfect. As much as folks have changed, there is plenty that has remained the same.
A few gin and tonics and laughs will prove that in a heartbeat.