Most of us remember our school days. Once you get to be my age some of those memories can become a little fuzzy but often times we remember the feelings we had even more than the actual events. High school for most of us was a social event. Many looked forward to seeing their friends at school. Kids passed notes to one another, gossiped about other kids, made fun of each other. Some kids wanted to be popular. Most just wanted to be accepted. They explored their sexuality. They wondered and worried if the boy or girl they “liked” liked them back. Or they were too worried, embarrassed, or unsure of their sexual feelings and kept them to themselves. It was a grand social experiment and most kids were happy to dive right in. Unless you were like me and hated the whole thing. I never wanted to be in school and spent my time devising ways not to be there.
When I think back about those times I often wonder what it would have been like to be part of the crowd. To be liked, and popular. To date and have a bunch of friends. I can’t imagine it because I never felt that way. I went on dates a couple times and when other kids talked about it, I hated it. I was a private kid, never letting anyone get too close. Not because I was worried about it, but because I didn’t want to let anyone into my private world. It was mine. I had great parents and a normal upbringing. I wasn’t socially awkward. I just valued my privacy and in high school, you had no privacy. Everyone knew your business and talked about it. So I kept close. I didn’t date or hang out with school friends after school. I did my own thing and dreamed of a time when I would be free of school. That’s just the way I was.
So when I heard that some of my high school classmates were planning our 45th class reunion, the idea piqued my interest. I am aware of course that over the years, people change. We are not who we were in high school. And yet the high school experience is so unique, so pervasive, it’s like a bubble in your memory. It’s like remembering a time when you were someone else. And now, you’re you. I argued with myself. I thought, I’m not that person anymore and then I remembered, they aren’t the people they were either. We’re all different know. And I started wondering what became of the people I went to high school with. I had joined a “Class of ’74” Facebook page and had read a few things posted there so I knew what some of my former classmates were up to. When I read a post that said there was going to be a meeting of the reunion committee and it was open to everyone, I was curious, so I went. And I volunteered to be on the committee.
At the time I joined, it had been about a year and a half since my wife died and I was just starting to come out of my shell. So getting to know some of my former classmates and participating in real life seemed like a good idea. And it was. The whole thing was a fun experience. It was very comfortable getting to know my classmates on the committee again. We had a lot of things to do to prepare for the reunion, and the reunion itself was fun. It was just a whole roomful of people who used to know each other, getting in touch again.
Life is a funny, strange and weird thing. In the smallish town where I grew up I’d known many of my high school classmates most of my life. We attended grade school together. And yet after graduation we all took off in many different directions to make new lives of our own. Coming back together for a reunion was an enjoyable time. Those that I talked to reminisced about school days or talked about their grand kids. We remembered cars we used to have and things we used to do. No tension, no gossip, no notes passed under the table. We never imagined being in our sixties when we were in school and now, we’re talking about planning our 50th reunion. Most of us have no idea what we’re in for when we’re young and life is kind of like bumbling around in the dark with a candle that keeps going out. You light it and find your way for awhile and then the damn thing goes out again and you’re lost. Then you get it lit again and keep going. And sometimes, you have reunions.