Posts Tagged ‘school’

my alma mater colors outside the reunion

I’ve been flipping through my high school yearbooks lately.

I dug them off their shelf the day I got back from my 20-year reunion, and paging through the pictures and messages – for the first time in perhaps 15 years – is helping my brain put the faces I saw at the reunion together with the names I remember from graduation.

Why didn’t I do this – let’s call it research – before my reunion? Why only after? Probably for the same reason I wasn’t entirely certain going to the reunion was a good idea: I wasn’t eager to relive those years.

If you’d asked me any time in the past two decades what high school was like for me, I’d have had a pretty definitive answer for you. I’d have said I hated high school, that I had a very small circle of close friends, that I was a social misfit who didn’t really have a place in the school I attended. I wasn’t one of the popular crowd, I wasn’t top of the class, I wasn’t stand-out in anything enough to be memorable.

I skipped my 10-year reunion (even though I live a 1.5-hour drive away) using the logic I’ve heard countless people use before and since – I was in touch with everyone I wanted to be in touch with from high school already (a grand total of two people). I had similar qualms as I made the 1.5-hour drive to my 20th reunion. I had even convinced myself that most of my classmates wouldn’t even remember me.

What was I doing?, I kept thinking. Why, if I didn’t fit in back then, did I think I’d fit in now? Why, if I hated high school so much, would I want to revisit it?

I walked into the bar on the first night of the reunion, relieved to notice they had a registration table set up with nametags, and was immediately enveloped in a bear hug by a guy I hadn’t had time to even look at before he hugged me. “Jessica Spiegel, ladies and gentlemen,” I heard him say. When he pulled back, I saw that it was someone I’d known since third grade, when I first moved to Oregon. He had been a loveable punk kid, a trouble-maker with a sweet side, and someone I hadn’t been close to. In the bar at our 20th reunion, he not only recognized me, he was happy to see me. I was dumbfounded.

At that moment, I realized I’d been approaching the whole reunion thing all wrong. It wasn’t about reliving the past, it was about living in the present with people who shared history with you. And that was it.


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