As someone who lived in “the boonies” I was always mildly envious of the town kids who had all grown up together. They had attended grade school together, played at each other’s homes, gone to the same slumber parties. They all knew each other and they were the in-crowd.
I had transferred into the school in 11th grade. With gusto, I threw myself into activities. I tried out for a sport I had played in Africa—field hockey—but did not make the team. So I redirected my energies—I ran for student council secretary—putting up creative posters. I came close but didn’t get elected.
Redirected again—by now I had joined chorus. So at least I was in something. I didn’t play an instrument you could play in the marching band, so that was out. Then came play tryouts—I made it, cast as the mother (!) in the junior class play.
By the end of my senior year, I had been elected to National Honor Society, was on yearbook staff, and in several special interest clubs. I wasn’t popular but at least I wasn’t a total reject.
Fast forward 45 years to our high school reunion. Over the years, I have kept in touch with no one from high school—until very recently. One of our class, moved by the news that one of our classmates had died several years, and no one in the class knew it, began gathering all our names. She sent out monthly breezy email newsletters. One by one, all of the 127 member of the class were found, except for the 9 who are “lost” and the 8 who have died.
Many people are nostalgic about their high school graduation class. I am no different. Oh I was consumed with curiosity. What would we be like after 45 years?
And now I know. Some people resembled magnificent architecture that has crumbled—you can still see the outlines of the building and know it was a magnificent structure, but it really is a ruin.
But there were also people there who had succeeded in ways we would not have thought as high school seniors. We became business owners, we became teachers, we became attorneys, and we became doctors.
Yes, I saw the prom queen at the reunion—she is now a matronly woman. The head cheerleader who was always so pert and perky now looks care-worn. The star athletes, men and women, have aching bones, carry too much weight, have had knee replacements. The dream couple—well, they are still together. And the class bad boys? Well, they straightened up—one, who despised education in high school, had earned a master’s degree; another who claimed to be drunk all through high school now works as Santa Claus in his hometown.
My curiosity has been assuaged. Before the reunion, I was full of wonder—what had we all done, where had we gone. Now I am caught up on news of deaths, divorces, misfortunes. And also news of accomplishment, joys shared.
Will I return in 5 years for the next big reunion? Who knows?