Where I write

Where I write

February 27, 2014

The Fear Factor..High School Reunion


Is there anything more motivating than an upcoming forty year high school reunion to make one want to spruce up a bit? We vow that before we see people again who knew us when, we will shed those unwanted love handles which is a misnomer because we don't love that extra fat at all. Or we might want our teeth brigthened. How did they get so brown? They look as wooden as George Washington's teeth. A trip to the plastic surgeon for maybe a tuck or nip? I haven't yet mistaken myself for a man, but as we age hair can sure grow in some places it just doesn't belong. There are men who just wish they still had hair and maybe even teeth, or wonder if they ever had a flat stomach.

I don't care if you are the most together, confident, hip, oh so wealthy and successful, person in the world all of us at one time or another will, or have, looked into the mirror and think who replaced me with that old woman, or man. We might ask how I can face people who knew me when I was bright and shiny and so full of promise?

My high school, James B. Conant, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois is planning to have our high school reunion this summer. I've gone to all my reunions, and this one has made me feel the most old for some reason. Possibly because I am old.
I never thought when I went to my first one, my ten year reunion, I would someday be planning to attend my 40th. I guess I never expected to live this long. There were times when I did some stupid things, involving motorcycles and men, and almost didn't. But those stories are for another day.

This is a group photo from my ten year high school reunion. Actually it is just half of my class. I lost the photo of the other half, but no matter because you can't see my classmates that clearly, anyway. Which is a shame because we are still young enough at our ten year high school reunion to look fabulous. In our 20s we are full of ourseleves. We bragged about our recent marriages, babies, wonderful careers, new houses. We were so thrilled to be  grownups. I was living in Colorado and working as a waitress.  I wore a black and white dress to my ten year high school reunion which made me look like an Oreo cookie. Thankfully I have no photos of that dress which took me days to find and which I paid too much.
Above is a photo with me and my two friends, Debbie and Katie, at our twenty year high school reunion. We all wore black. I guess we were in mourning for our twenties. I was only 30 something year's old. I should have worn bright pink!!! Also, I had an unfortunate perm right before the reunion which is why my hair looks like a hay bale set on top of my head. was living in Phoenix and teaching English to adult refugees, making very little money. I think I got this dress at a thrift shop.
The twenty year high school reunion was less attended as the tenth year reunion. By that time you're not so sure you really need to see these people who knew you when you were a pom pom girl. The poms poms are frayed, and who cares anyway. Maybe that wonderful marriage turned into a divorce, and your job might be a grind, and was this how life was suppose to turn out?  Or we were so happy, why even look back.
Still, even those of us who had fallen on hard times, were still optimistic because  there was plenty of time to recover from that bankruptcy or have that baby, or move to our dream city. We were only in our 30s!

Then came the thirty year high school reunion. I wore blue. I found the outfit at the last minute. I had searched for weeks and nothing made me look young or thin or pretty enough, worthy to exist in the world. I'm not sure who two of the people in this photo are.
 That's what happens as we age. We forget people. I was still living in Arizona, and free lance writing now.
I danced a lot, and drank quite a few glasses of wine, and by the end of the night my hair was stuck to my head. I laughed so much at the reunion  I could have used a package of Depends. At this point, at a forty year high school reunion,the crowd has gotten smaller. Kids are growing up. Parents are aging.  People are looking at their lives with an eye on the clock.  Our knees or back hurt, and we are familiar with disappointments and loss. We also know joy and peace and how silly it is to think we can predict the future.  It's a mixed bag. Being grown up takes a lot of work.
 Everything we thought we were so sure and clear  about life at our ten year reunion looks a lot more uncertain and opaque. I had to use that word opaque. I just love it. 

All this thinking about appearance, and worry about how to impress people with all that I have accomplished in my life at my upcoming reunion, was interrupted today when I thought of my high school friend Patti. She's on the far right. We were on our way to our Senior Breakfast. Debbie is trying to get into the photo on the far left. She's such a ham though she is a vegan now and would never eat ham.
  I noticed it was Patty's birthday today and one of our classmates had wished her a Happy Birthday on Facebook. Patti died last  summer and she won't even have the choice of whether or not to attend our high school reunion. So when I start obsessing about if I will look fat, or wrinkled, or my life will sound like one big mess, I will think about Patti. What really matters is truly invisible to the eye. I will remind myself how blessed I am to be able to hug people who knew me when I was young, and remind me that I was actually was young. I'm grown up but it sure is nice to remember being a kid again. Sometimes it's hard to believe that.


SunsetCindi said...

How fabulous to be able to attend your 40th reunion. You will sparkle and spread joy and hug lots of people that will be happy to see you and each other. Enjoy and post pictures and you'll be hot in your latest great find at the thrift store!

Anonymous said...

I haven't attended any of my high school reunions. I think I was just too thrilled to get out of there. Ironic, that I spend so much time in a high school for my job!

Forty years later, you are still a firecracker!