August 31, 2009

Three decades later

“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”

That was the line everyone kept saying. I graduated from high school in a class of about 500 so I didn’t recognize everyone at the reunion, but almost everyone at least looked familiar. Some of us who stayed in town have sent kids through the same high school, and how strange it is that we have kids who are older than we used to be.

The most surprising thing was that people hadn’t changed all that much. The upbeat, enthusiastic boy? He is now an upbeat, enthusiastic man. “I’ve been a firefighter for 20 years now, and I love it.” The nice girl who sat behind me on the bus who was friendly to everyone? She was hugging former classmates and saying, “Let me see photos of your family.” The kid who thought obnoxious jokes were funny? Yep, he still does.

For the most part, I thought the class of ’79 looked better than they did in high school. A big part of it, I suppose, it that they were no longer wearing platform shoes and tight disco shirts. And of course, we’re about 48 years old now – with aging eyes. That kind of fuzzy vision is flattering to all of us. Mostly, though, it was cool to see how self-assured and self-confident everyone was – not afraid to be themselves. That’s something that comes from age and experience

Architect Friend and I walked around the crowd, peering at nametags and comparing notes. “Have you seen Lacrosse Player Kid? Did Woman Who Moved to DC come back for this?”

I was disappointed that Kid With Great Sense of Humor hadn’t made it to the reunion. “I thought he’d be here,” I said to Architect Friend. “He was our class president.”

“I didn’t know that position was for life.”

That’s the funny thing about class reunions: you can’t escape the roles you played back then. Kid With Great Sense of Humor will always be the class president to me.

Friends kept introducing me to their spouses in exactly the way they had for four years of high school. “Here’s jo(e). She’s our valedictorian.” They started saying that when I was only in ninth grade, and all through high school, that label made me cringe. It was the 70s, and being smart carried a negative stigma, especially for a girl in a conservative community. It wasn’t until college that I felt okay about being academically gifted.

But at 48, it’s a different story. I just laughed every time someone said, “This is jo(e), the smartest girl in our class.” I love that after 30 years, they fully expected me to fulfill that role. There’s something sweet about being part of a community who still think of me as a teenager, who half-expected me to walk in wearing bell bottoms and a red velour shirt.

4 comments:

liz said...

Happy Reunion!

BrightenedBoy said...

What a milestone to reach in your life. Does it make you evaluate where you are and all you've done? I'd say you have a lot to be proud of.

Lilian said...

If there were such things as high school reunions in Brazil this year would mark my 20th...

Your reunion sounds like lots of fun! (and this was supposed to be the very first comment, but I just forgot to type the word and enter it ages ago... :-).

Songbird said...

But did you wear your red cape?