Reflections on a 20th High School Reunion

Then as it was, then again it will be
An’ though the course may change sometimes
Rivers always reach the sea
Blind stars of fortune, each have several rays
On the wings of maybe, down in birds of prey
Kind of makes me feel sometimes, didn’t have to grow
But as the eagle leaves the nest, it’s got so far to go

Changes fill my time, baby, that’s alright with me
In the midst I think of you, and how it used to be

-Led Zeppelin

LZ’s lyrics may or may not resonate with you, but they surely capture images and sentiments of remembering days past quite well. And to think, Robert Plant’s words described a mere ten year void.

But twenty years?  Our first reunion where the celebrants have lived more years after high school graduation than before it. And we celebrate this?  Or do we simply congregate to commiserate the fact that we all have aged precisely the same amount since sharing common classrooms, teachers, extracurricular activities and athletic fields for four years?

For most of us, it was nice to see our friends…the ones we still have today as well as those we once proudly roamed the halls with twenty years ago.  Some of us even have friends from high school that we are closer with today than back when acne and SATs were among our biggest fears.

It was also nice to see those we weren’t so friendly with back then.  Twenty years of maturity and experience certainly dulls whatever insecurities and emotional scars may remain from some people’s nightmare that was adolescence. So seeing the inevitable “Breakfast Club” of characters from our past became more intriguing than painful after two decades (and the free-flowing drinks certainly helped too).

Bottom line: I was glad I went.

Never again will I have the opportunity to attend my 20th High School Reunion.

Sure, I am lucky enough to still have a sizable group of friends from high school whom I see as frequently as our schedules, family commitments and geographical constraints allow.  But even with these friends that I hold nearest and dearest, it will never be like it was in high school, when I saw them all every weekday and most weekends for four years.

High School was a time and place for many important firsts in life (at least for the majority of us):

The first time we had a “security guard” on campus (thanks Charlie)

The first time we participated in a form of parliamentary government and elected our classmates (or they elected us) to office

The first time we had multiple principals and were unclear as to what roles they played

The first time we “borrowed” our parents’ (or sibling’s) car (without a license)

The first time we stupidly smoked a cigarette

The first time we read Shakespeare and Dickens

The first time we had a school wide pep rally

The first time we experienced the trauma of one of our classmates passing away

The first time we went to a rock or pop concert with our friends and no parents

The first time we got to third base with a member of the opposite sex

The first time we earned a varsity letter

The first time we studied for and took the SATs

The second time we studied for and took the SATs

The first time we went to a party where everyone was drinking

The first time the cops busted a party we attended

The first time we met with a guidance counselor

The first time we were told, based on test scores, we were best suited for a career in a field we had no interest in pursuing

The first time we applied for college

The first time we were told to apply to a safety school just in case by a man with one foot in the grave

The first time we threw a party when our parents were out of town

The first time we studied Physics, Calculus, Latin and “Typing”

The first time we drank too much and vomited

The first time we learned to drive and got our license

The first time we drove ourselves (and others) to school

The first time we tried marijuana

The first time we were devastated by a break-up

The first time we had any say as to the classes we took

The first time we had responsibilities other than homework or chores

The first time we (boys) spent serious money on a girl

The first time we researched and wrote a paper longer than 10 pages

The first time we attended a prom

The first time we grew facial hair (intentionally or unintentionally)

The first time we didn’t take art or music – unless we chose to

The first time we stood up for or even took action for a cause we believed in

The first time we had a serious relationship with a member of the opposite sex

The first time we got into a car accident

The first time we knew someone or even had a friend who was openly homosexual

The first time we could go outside when walking from class to class

The first time we got laid

and…

The first time we were accepted (and/or rejected) by a college or university

And everyone who attended (or eschewed) our 20th reunion played a pivotal or peripheral role in all of the above. They were there, finding their own way in the world, just like us. They were our support system, our confidantes, our best friends, our sworn enemies, our teammates, our co-stars, our band mates, our fellow staffers, our secret crushes, our exes, our competition, our heroes, our nightmares, our misunderstood, our former friends, our future friends, our academic equals, superiors and inferiors, our class clowns, our drug dealers, our designated drivers, our tutors, our class officers, our role models, our teachers’ pets, our most and least likely to succeed, our future captains of industry, our criminals, our bullies, our bullied, our outcasts, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our prudes, our sluts, our most popular and least popular, our lunch buddies, our homeroom friends, our prom dates and our science lab partners.

It was great to see how all the aforementioned people look 20 years later. It was great to catch up.  It was great to reminisce, and to compare notes.  There were some surprises, and a few people I honestly never knew were in my high school class. I wondered where some of the no-shows were and what they were doing with their lives. I asked a few attendees if they still keep in touch with some of those who didn’t make it. I witnessed some flirting, and saw the gravitational pull of some high school cliques attempting to reemerge.

I wore a nametag with my senior yearbook picture on it.

I brought my wife, and introduced her to everyone.

I met others’ spouses and significant others.

I shared some laugh-out-loud moments and traded contact info with a select few.  There were some promises to keep in touch and some invitations to “call when you’re in town.”

I heard rumors of some shady shit going down in the parking lot.

I wished some of my favorite and most impactful teachers were there, but understand that they cannot be expected to attend multiple reunions a year for their entire lives.

And every group has the douche bag friend who is “too cool for school (reunions).”  You know the type: Couldn’t be bothered with such a “ridiculous event,” even though they still lived in the area and had no more important things going on that night. If you don’t know what I am talking about, it was probably you.

But overall, the event was well-attended and fun.

Thanks to those who organized it.

See you all in five, or ten, or thirty, Upper Dublin class of 1991 alumni.

Peace.

IDROS

 

 

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