This past weekend, I attended my first high school reunion -- the 20th. No matter how many times I see that number, it doesn't seem possible that it's been 20 years since I marched into my high school gym to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance." A lot has happened since then. I got a college degree, I worked for many years full time in the journalism field, I got married, I moved to a different state, I traveled to or through 41 states, and I've managed to get three of my books published so far. Despite all the accomplishments, part of my less confident younger self emerged in the days leading up to the reunion. I was looking forward to it, to seeing friends I hadn't seen in awhile, but I wondered how people would react to each other. Would they pick up where they left off? Would they naturally gravitate toward who they'd been friends with in high school? Were the people who were at odds then still be that way?
I needn't have worried. Yes, there was some of the gravitating toward the people you'd been closest to in high school, but that makes sense. While I spent time with most people there and really enjoyed the fact that the whole clique thing seemed to have disappeared, I hung out most with my closest friends from back then. In fact, I'm still in contact with them 20 years after we took our diplomas and left our small hometown. I can't mention everyone, so I'm just going to focus on three.
There was Allison, who has been my good friend longer than anyone. We became best friends in 5th grade after being in Girl Scouts together the previous couple of years. I spent an enormous amount of time at her house once we got to middle school since her house was literally two lots from the school. Allison got me through trigonometry in high school, the only class I ever got a C in. It killed my aspirations of being valedictorian, but that's okay because Allison ended up earning that honor. She and I roomed together for a semester in college before she moved to the dorm where most of the music majors lived. (She's an oboe player.) That's Allison on the right in the photo.
The gal in the middle is Kristy, who became the third part of our trio when we got to 7th grade. At the time, the county still had more than one elementary school and she'd gone to one of the ones out in the county while Allison and I went to the school in town. But the smaller schools only went to 6th grade, so we all ended up in middle school together. We were in many of the same classes, clubs, etc. As we moved into high school, we'd go to ballgames together, get ready for dances at Allison's house, and have slumber parties at Allison's house in town or on Kristy's farm. I remember sitting back and watching them practice for marching band (Kristy played flute and later was the flag captain). Kristy became my second roommate in college, for a year and a half until she moved off campus.
They both have three kids now. I like to joke that they each had an extra one for me since I have none. :)
Another good friend in high school was Kim. She lived on the other side of the county, and we'd do things like go horseback riding (at which I was dismal, falling off the animal onto my head the one and only time I attempted to ride with her) or four-wheeling through the mud and creeks. Kim and I walked together at graduation (that's us in the top photo on graduation night), and unfortunately afterward we fell out of touch with each other. Through the wonders of Facebook, we reconnected. She has two adorable daughters now, one of whom looks a lot like her. Kim's mom owns a flower shop in town and did the flower arrangements for the reunion dinner.
The reunion was actually three days of activities. On Friday night, we were supposed to tailgate at the high school homecoming football game. But since the game was canceled because the other team had to forfeit (they got in a big fight with another team the previous week), we ended up having a cookout and eating in our old high school cafeteria. I don't think I'd been in that room since the night I graduated. Some people were easily recognizable as they walked in; others not so much. I kept having to ask Kim who people were. We took a tour of the school. Some things looked the same; even one of the teachers is still there. But there was a new annex, which included a very nice computer lab with big Mac computers. Way better than the Commodore 64 computers we had back in the day. :) There was also a new arena where the basketball games are played, though we did walk through the old gym. Still smelled the same as it did 20 years ago. LOL! And it was funny to see the kids of classmates playing with each other just like their parents did years ago.
The next night was the official dinner at the country club. At one point, we all introduced ourselves, told what we did for a living, if we were married, how many kids, etc. It was interesting to hear what people ended up doing -- teachers, chemical plant workers, lots of nurses, a prison guard, a state trooper, and a variety of other occupations. Only three of us didn't have any kids. The rest had anywhere from one to four.
Sunday morning, one of our classmates who is now a minister preached a service, but I headed home instead of driving back into town for it since I was staying in the next county. I heard it was a nice service though.
Even though the reunion is behind me now, I still can't believe it's been 20 years. I hope the next 20 years don't fly by quite so quickly.
So, have you ever been to a high school reunion? What was it like? Were people the same? Different?