Monday, September 26, 2011

Evolution of a Snotty Teenager

"You haven't changed a bit!"
"And YOU look exactly the same!"
"And YOU haven't aged a day!"
"I would have known you anywhere!"

We'll  lie and lie and lie.
At our 40 year high school reunion next month.
But really, we'll only be half lying. Because in many ways, behind the extra girth, snow on the rooftop and double chins, we are still the same. This is what I discover at every reunion I attend. And I have to confess, I'm a reunion addict. I go to all of them, high school or college, I recruit/beg friends to go, and  when I worked for the University of Pacific many (many!) years ago, one of the hats I wore was that of official class reunion organizer. I helped bring together a range of alums, young and old ... from the 32-year olds for their 10 year reunions to the 72-year olds who were being indoctrinated into the Half Century Club. It was so, so rewarding to see these classmates come together again. So I guess it's in my blood.

I love reunions because I feel like the buddies we had way back then are some of the most important friends we'll have in our lives. They knew us when we were shaping, growing, and trying to figure who the hell we wanted to be. Unlike friendships we've forged since then, our high school friends knew us at our core, before we signed up for all the grown-up stuff. When I reunite with friends from my youth, especially if it's been decades since I've seen them, the years simply fall away as I bring them back into the folds of my life. That reconnection is a gift.
Reunions mean time travel. For one weekend we can squeeze back into our 18-year old skins and look into the young faces of old friends who knew us when life was less complicated. We'll catch ourselves being hilariously and shamefully immature once again. We'll forgive and forget, even bury the hatchet if there is a hatchet to be buried.

We'll come together on that old familiar ground where we rolled up our skirts, sneaked our cigs, and drove those narrow, winding streets of our small town like Formula One drivers. This is the place where we sat in cars at lunchtime and belted out "One Less Bell To Answer" with the radio (sorry, guys) and where we ... oh, I dunno, we might have done stuff like ditch history class by jumping out the ground floor window when the teacher turned to write on the blackboard.* This is the place where our hearts were broken and mended, where we yearned to be accepted, and where we eventually parted ways after graduation to venture out into an unknown world, solo, without each other.

But much as we may often wish for our youth again, growing up is the gratifying part of life. Really. Because let's face it ... in high school we were sometimes snarky and shallow, snotty and clique-y. I know there were times I was mean to certain people, and I know I was especially sullen and snotty to my parents. For which I'm truly sorry.
At a reunion though, we proudly show each other that we really did grow up, that we now actually have grown-up qualities like responsibility, compassion, and kind, generous and grateful hearts ... everything we always had deep within us anyway, even then. We now recognize the once unthinkable; that we've evolved from snotty teenagers to adults with wiry, grey hair, cholesterol issues, and (heaven forbid) common sense. We quit smoking, let our skirts down, and subscribe to NetFlix so we can stay home on Friday nights. We've become the very parents we said we'd never become, with the very kids we once were. Yep, I love that we knew each other at our core back then, but what I love more is seeing who we've now become. Kinder, deeper, less judgmental, more tolerant and open-hearted.

I'm SO excited about The Big 40th. This is an important reunion (as high school reunion statistics indicate) because it's usually the one with the greatest attendance. And that's because:

a.) 40 years is a loooooong time and people are finally revved up to see each other again, and ....

b.) while we don't look "exactly the same" at age 58, everyone still looks pretty good, and ...

c.) everyone knows that it will probably be the last reunion, because in another 10 years you look pretty much like crap and nobody wants to go to a reunion.

These are just the facts, people.
Not gonna lie.

And so, Piedmont High School, Class of 1971 .... if any of you are reading this, I'm recruiting/begging once again. If you haven't already registered for our 40th reunion, please do. In just three weeks we'll hear the squeals of recognition and the nicknames shouted out, followed by wine-sloshing, rib-crushing hugs.

And then the lies.


* Let the record show that this was not just one student who would slip out that window ... there were times when the teacher would turn around to continue the lecture and one third of the class would be gone! To the late Doc Benson, please forgive us ... we were just a bunch of snotty teenagers.


Gail Keene Baker said...

Michelle you are quite the writer. Thank you for posting this. The attendance at the next doesn't have to do with how we look because nobody should care anymore. I think that this is our most important reunion as the insurance tables show there may be many more who have left us way too early and this may be our last chance to see some of our classmates.
I have been to every reunion and I have to say that when I see our classmates it is just like I saw them yesterday. It is so comfortable and even more so now than when we were in high school. There are no cliques. The only problem is having enough time to connect with everyone! I look forward to seeing you over the weekend of fun!
Gail Keene Baker

Studio Zanne said...

Nice writing and your blog looks lovely.
I've never been to a single reunion...Have fun!

Joanne said...

You are a reunion junkie!!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Hope you had a grand time. I'm not one much for reunions. Never been to one and doesn't really bother me. Now if I were as skinny as you - maybe.