Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Return to Scene of the Crime

I at last relented and attended the graduating class of '70 high school reunion - forty five years later. That final decision to go rests in equal parts from the flattery and skillful persuasion from my best high school buddy - and a "wild" girl who got in as much trouble as I did back in the day agreeing to meet me - and the fact that the clock is ticking. Now or never.

I almost changed my mind. Every day between the moment I agreed to go and the very day of the event, I decided to not attend and then changed my mind again. I could not imagine that anyone other than a few people would even remember me. Behind this loud-mouth exterior pounds the quivering heart of a truly shy person. I did not want to chance not remembering someone's name or to not recognize the people I spent more time with than any of my husbands! I needn't have feared. I only called one person by the wrong name - and that should not even count because I instantly recognized his face!

Oh, to see once again so many people who meant so much to me! Adolescence is a true rite of passage, and we survived that horrible and amazing time together. All of the women were instantly recognizable. Indeed, most of them had not changed at all, being beautiful to this day. The men were a little more difficult to recognize. It was difficult to match the young boys of my memory with the fully mature men in the room. And by "fully mature" I mean hats and white beards and either balding heads or a few long-hairs like me.

It made me smile to watch everyone lean in to hear, or turn their "good" ear toward the conversation. The acoustics in the large room made it difficult to hear - that, and all the laughter. While we were eating, the cacophony died down making normal conversation possible. Everyone filling his or her pie-hole with food was better than a hearing aid!

We hugged and laughed and told stories. We recalled the spectacular exploits of those wild boys, agreeing that most of their pranks would bring legal consequences in school today. There were amiable apologies, spontaneously welling from the common wisdom that we knew nothing then but believed we knew everything!

We fondly recalled those few who died young, or more recently took their leave. We looked at photos of children and grandchildren. We laughed and cried and hugged again. We caught up quickly. The most wonderful thing was the way we picked up where we left off. It was easy, like slipping on an old sweater, comfortable and well-loved. It was good - all the way through.


AndaRFitz said...

So nice Mom. So glad you went! Good for the Spirit. :)

Jackie said...

Yes, it was indeed good for the spirit!

Kathleen Gault said...

So good to hear -- thanks for sharing. In some moment of similar bravery, I attended my 20th, and I experienced the same things -- that the women looked awesome, and the men, even at 37-38, were looking quite different and more ragged. Their faces had filled out, they had facial hair, and some were already going bald. Women rock.

However, it was a bit odd in that our reunion was three days long. Day 1 was an evening gathering at the local youth club -- which I had never gone to in my whole high school life. It was fun to look for old friends, and we had that same everyone greeting everyone, everyone talking at once, experience that you had. Loud music playing (on actual vinyl records) in the background.

Day 2 was an evening dinner at a very fancy club -- that none of us would have attended, if it had been built at the time. You know, the kind with a two-story waterfall with live fish swimming in it, fancy food, and a loud live band. I noticed people were starting to clump up together into the old cliques and gangs.

Day 3 was a family picnic at a local park (which I had been to), and by now everyone was fragmented into our old groups. Which was fine with me. I was neither one of the 'in' crowd (or the 'soshes' as we used to call them, nor the bad kids. I was an introverted outsider who brushed against the edges of the rah rahs by virtue of the fact that my boyfriend (another introvert) was on our fabled football team.

Talk about deja vu! It was like being back in high school with less hair. hahaha

But fun. Almost 30 years later, I am curious to see if someone will organize a 50th reunion. I might go for that.

Even at 38, it was salutary to look back at the many miseries of high school, and see that most of the stuff we all worried about was a bunch of nothing. I had read a very enlightening book, just a few weeks before I went to my own reunion, about the much-celebrated graduating class of Beverly Hills High School that was featured as 'Man and Woman of the Year' on the cover of Time magazine in 1965. The authors, two introverted not-in-the-in-crowd members of the class, went back 20 years later and interviewed their classmates, and what they found was shocking and heartwarming and depressing and funny and sad. 'Whatever Happened to the Class of '65' by Michael Medved and David Wallachinski. A good read and good prep for my own 20th class reunion.

Jackie said...

Wow... I don't know if I could have lasted three days! I think the people who organize our reunions go for one evening and then a brunch for any left standing the next day! I missed the best reunion where many retired to a private home for more fun and karaoke - and the police were called - twice! That would have been the reunion to attend!!

I think most of us find our way past those awful angst-ridden days of high school to blossom into whatever destiny awaits. HIghschool contained some of the very worst days of my life to date, and some of the best. Only a young person could survive those extremes! It was great to see everyone again - even after 45 years!

One good thing we had over your reunion, Kathy - we would have to travel a long way to find anything as awesome as a two story waterfall. My highschool is located 14 miles from the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states... What was that subject you mentioned one time - remote points of inaccessibility or something like that? I think my home town is a remote point of inaccessibility...