Tom and I are lucky. We were high school sweethearts… same school, same grade, same graduating class — 1970. So that made 2015 a reunion year. The invitation came and I was excited about connecting with high school friends. I knew Tom would be agreeable to doing whatever I preferred to do. So yes, we’ll go. And then something came up, so no, we won’t go. And then the opportunity to change the date of the other event surfaced. So yes, we’ll have the best of both worlds, we’ll keep one engagement and still attend our 45th class reunion…in State College.
I got the yearbook out to study names and faces of classmates from all those years ago. So many names and faces from so many years in the past. There I was cramming for an exam using an outdated text book, which of course is exactly what the yearbook was — outdated. Leafing through the pages of my 1970 yearbook, beautiful and handsome faces gazed back at me. Those youngsters with hairstyles long since out of style, no wrinkles, no gray hair — and, as a matter of fact, everyone has hair in those pictures.
I knew I’d be facing a much more mature crowd at the reunion. We would be a decade more mature than we were at our 35th, and five years older than our 40th, and now our 45th! Youthful features would hardly be recognizable, well hidden behind graying hair or professionally colored hair, wrinkles and ages spots, or lots and lots of make up…will I know them? Will I know anyone?
A few. I’ll know a few. I’ll know more names than faces. Thank heaven for name tags!
I don’t have a history with these nice people. I didn’t go to kindergarten with them, or grade school, middle school or junior high. I came to State College in the summer before my junior year of high school, 11th grade. At my previous school I was shy and awkward and, although I got above average grades, I knew I was not terribly smart. But no one at my new school knew that, so I pretended to be outgoing, friendly, confident, and, well, there wasn’t much I could do about the smart thing. I like to think no one was the wiser. Yeah, that’s what I like to think.
My friend Ellen welcomed the class before the meal with thoughtful, meaningful words about how import those early years and friendships were in our development. When we graduated at 17 or 18 years old, for those who had been together since elementary years, that represented nearly 3/4 of our lives. Her speech gave me a twinge of homesickness for the kids I grew up with — neighborhood kids, classmates, besties from my earliest years. I left those people back in another world, having kept in touch with only one childhood friend. Although, thanks to Facebook, I’ve reconnected with a few more. For the most part, they’ve all carried on without me. They graduated from Westmont Hilltop High School in 1970. I trust they’ve led wonderful, happily fulfilled grown-up lives. And I hope they know enough to appreciate the history they have with one another. It’s not a thing to be taken for granted.
High school reunions…good friends, good times, good recollections. You should go to your next one.