Tuesday, December 1, 2009

20 years

This week-end marked a milestone for me, my 20 year high school reunion.  I had hemmed and hawed about going, worrying if I had anything in common with these people anymore, bemoaning my weight, and delaying purchasing tickets.  Now that it is over, I am only sorry that I hesitated, because I had a blast and it was well worthwhile.

Waistlines were bigger and hair was smaller (in some cases non-existent). Some folks were married with children and others were single and fabulous.  I met lots of other stay at home moms, and envied folks with big careers.  I loved seeing all the smart kids, and learning about what they were doing.  Lot's of attorneys, doctors, financial services gurus, accountants, small business owners, and teachers.  

One friend later remarked about how many people seemed trapped in the high school mentality.  I smiled and agreed, but later thought about it.  He and I were both floaters in high school, friends with everyone and never bound to a single group.  It was the kind of thought we probably would have shared 20 years ago, and it still stands today.  And that of course means we were also still in our high school mode, on the inside but still outside. I suppose it was natural for all of us to gravitate to our former roles.  The cliques still buzzed like little hives.  Some other folks seemed to be holding court.  And some folks were still aiming to please, seeking approval from others who then and now would never acquiesce.  Finally, I also saw and experienced a lot of forgiveness to and from people who may have hurt me/been hurt by me. Past transgressions were overlooked or even transcended in the spirit of evening. 

I have to thank my husband for attending with me; as Jen Balaban (now Fritch) remarked, he deserves a gold star for enduring it.  It was also great to have a neutral party there, someone who wasn't part of my high school experience but knows me so well.  It was like having an anthropologist on hand to observe. On the way home we were chatting in the car and exchanging observations.  He remarked on how large our class was - 700 something people in all, of which probably 150 - 200 turned out.  He also noticed how diverse we were, which I guess was less common in the eighties than it is today.  And then he said something that was so kind, so generous and will stay with me always. 

"Julie, you always talk about how much you admire people who can light up a room, people who draw others in and around them.  What I saw tonight was a bunch of people who look at you like gold, who just loved you and root for you no matter what."  

So now you all know why I married him.  But it was true, not just for me but for all of us.  The friends we had back then really stay with you always, even if you never get to see them but for once every 20 years.  There is a staying power that comes with shared experience, and it ultimately translates into long term albeit hazy bonds that cannot be severed.  I remember fine details about friends from Warnsdorfer Elementary School, Churchill Junior High, and East Brunswick High School; their brothers and sisters, their parents, our teachers, the smell of the classrooms, field day, dances in the gym, parties, where they went to college, football games, the first day of 7th grade, East Brunswick Soccer Club, Farrels, Bella Pizza, trips to Luray Caverns, TAG, IPLE, Ms. Trabilsy's (later Eichorn) wedding, the Metropolitan Club, the fly in Ms. Merli's classroom, Mr. Kenny's ex-wife and antics, scrunchies, Mr. Hanley and chorus, bar/bat mitzvah's, sweet sixteens, crazy science teachers, the Constitutional competition, Model UN, and so much more.  No matter what, I will always remember these folks, and am glad that we had one evening to reconnect.  Class of 1989, it was great to see you - I wish you all the best in your lives, and thank you for the memories.  

Want to share something about the reunion?  Leave me a comment below and tell me about it.

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