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Class acts

March 23, 2010

In the mail the other day: A letter announcing my mother’s upcoming 40th high school reunion. On Facebook, a group recruiting attendees already has 77 members – about four times the number of students in my graduating class.

She took us to the family-friendly bits of her 30th, and it was just like the movies: They agonized over outfits, had to wear name tags decorated with their yearbook photos, talked about who had and hadn’t changed, who had been the coolest, the most popular, the most aloof. And they had fun.

My parents-in-law attended a 40th class reunion last year, and we’re still hearing tales of their bar-hopping, Beatles-jamming, gossip-igniting good time. The most outrageous stories seem to take place in a 15-passenger van, something I will take care to avoid should I ever find myself running around with a group of my high school friends again.

For awhile after I graduated, a stop at the local gas station – our singular watering hole for cars and people – constituted a mini-reunion. But nearly a decade later, between the time I left and returned, many of my former classmates moved off,  if only to the next town.

If we ever get together for a planned reunion, the invitation will be a flyer posted around town, likely announcing a picnic at the ballpark for graduates from 1998-2005. That would include me and two of my four siblings – my sister, who was one year behind me, and my brother, who was among our school’s last 14 graduates – and could amount to more than 77 people, definitely a crowd.

If he would go, I’d have my husband’s to look forward to. He isn’t too eager, as his senior year was the only year he attended his alma mater (a big school with lots more than 18 graduates). From where he stands that makes for a lackluster reunion – from my perspective, that makes it anxiety-free entertainment. But traumatizing and boring are possibilities, too; it’s hard to forecast.

As it turns out, I’ll get my chance in October. On Friday I had a meeting with a former professor about a reunion I’ll definitely be attending, not to mention planning, for a gathering of past recipients of the fellowship that I have to thank for my bachelor’s degree (and, perhaps, for my husband, whom I met as we prepared to interview for the same award). Between 50 and 100 of us will get together to celebrate its 20-year mark. It’ll be my chance to deliberate over what to wear to the cocktail party, what to say over dinner, what accomplishments I might learn about, how to catch up quickly on years of news.

But those years are less distant than the ones I spent in high school, where I knew my classmates more as kids than adults. Half of us started kindergarten together and by graduation time shared 13 years of funny stories. Josh used to pee outside during kindergarten recess; Tiffany’s sprayed-to-perfection hair caught fire during the Christmas program in fifth grade; Paul was always afraid of turtles; I was always afraid of the ball. (Except in seventh grade gym. We’ll always have croquet.)

I marvel that someone has maintained a list of mailing addresses for my mother’s class of 1970. Our school never had a Web site or a newsletter. Casual waves and other local sightings were the extent of alumni tracking. Now Facebook is always ready with a virtual reunion. I wonder if the genuine article is destined for the social endangerment list?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 3:00 am

    You know how my reunion was: AWFUL!!!

  2. March 23, 2010 5:28 am

    It always seems like the longer you’ve been gone, the fonder you remember it. I hope when I’m your mother’s age, I can look forward to a high-school reunion and the ensuing shenanigans in a 15-passenger van. Right now, I’d be like your husband, not all too excited about the prospect. Of course, I can “attend” my virtual Facebook reunion and completely ignore all of these mixed feelings. What a good point you make about “social” networking!)

  3. March 23, 2010 11:34 am

    This is fantastic, Leslie.
    And this: “…from my perspective, that makes it anxiety-free entertainment. But traumatizing and boring are possibilities, too; it’s hard to forecast.”

    I love this perspective. Easy entertainment or boring or nerve-wracking…who would know? Hard to tell, indeed.

    I don’t have any reunions to look forward to, either. And you know what? I never even thought about it until now so I guess I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Phew! After all, we have FB right? 🙂

  4. March 23, 2010 1:12 pm

    I don’t think I could get into a class reunion. I used to kind of fantasize about it, but over time have come to the realization that the people that I went to school with so many years ago are now little more than strangers, even the ones who were my friends back then. I wasn’t one of the “in-crowd” and there were actually only a few people in the class that were really friends.

    I graduated in 1970 from a “smallish” school near Houston, Texas, and left the area 18 months later — and I’ve never been back. There were 105 people in my graduating class.

    I think if I had stayed in the area, it might be different. I would have seen a some of my classmates on occasion over the years and might have actually stayed in contact. But, then again, maybe not.

  5. March 24, 2010 4:06 am

    I’m small town too – not 18 students small, but 54. The McDonald’s in the town center (where two one way streets intersect) was a big deal. Ok, the only deal. 🙂

    I went to my reunion, which was about 24 people, including the spouses of those from my class who attended. It. was. rough. For starters, because I don’t even keep in contact with anyone from my own class. But also because who I am now is just so different from who I was then. It’s almost hard for me to reconcile the two worlds.

    Except that there’s a nagging in me that keeps wanting to try. And this is how I know that when I get the invite in another seven years to go to my 20th (ack – really?) I’ll probably still go. Even if it’s at the same run down Rod and Gun Club where the last one was (and where my 8th grade dinner dance was – moose heads on the wall and all.)

  6. March 24, 2010 6:35 pm

    I was very sad to have missed my 15th high school reunion last spring. (I had a c-section two days before, four states away. Not really an option to attend.) I am one of those rare creatures who loved high school, almost unequivocally. And, although I don’t live near any of my classmates, I still consider several of them among my best friends.

    I hope you have a wonderful time at your fellowship reunion this fall. I will be living vicariously through you!

  7. March 24, 2010 9:45 pm

    Reunions – love ’em or hate ’em I think they’ll always be entertaining! I find them to be the perfect people watching event there is!

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