It’s been 20 years since I graduated from high school. I am friends with most of my former classmates on Facebook. I know about their careers and families. I know about major changes that have occurred in their lives, death of a parent, birth of a child, marriage, divorce, rehab, promotions, coming out of the closet, cancer. I know who has hair and who doesn’t anymore. I know who is in better physical shape now, than 20 years ago, and who isn’t. My husband, and many of my classmates, probably don’t see the point in buying a plane ticket to their hometown for a reunion. What’s the point of spending time, money and an evening with people that they can message if they want to, but usually don’t? Some won’t go, because they feel frustrated that 20 years later, they are not where they want to be in life, and that their path in life is set. Others, might have painful memories of bullying, betrayal and loneliness that they’ve spent the past 2 decades avoiding or resolving. I care about my former classmates not just for who they are or were, but for how our lives are permenantly tied through shared experiences.
I am going to my 20 year high school reunion so that I can feel connected, and remind my classmates of who they were and who we have become.
Here are just a few things that I learned from you, my friends in the class of 1995….
Too much of a good thing, is never a good thing…. especially when it involves raspberry liquor and Denny’s grilled cheese sandwich.
Sometimes, the idea of an experience is better than the reality of it, especially if it has been built up to be magical, but it’s not. Junior year prom picture, my eyes were closed, the room was really hot, and even though I arrived with someone I loved, I wished that I had the courage to slow dance with you instead.
I admire your tenacity. I saw where you started, and have pride in your accomplishments as you have become a teacher or physician, or triathlete, or entrepreneur or parent.
I’ve realized, that what you valued 20 years ago, for the most part, you still do. I see it in your ambition to be the best in your field, the time you take to connect with friends and family, the way that you physically mark your self as different to stand out from the crowd, the way that you seek out and connect with friends, and the time you’ve spent completing your degree online.
At 16, it was exhilarating kissing you instead of my boyfriend. It’s made me value and practice fidelity since.
Thank you for teaching the art of milkshakes, moonlit make outs, and blankets. And for getting in the drivers ed car when it was my turn.
Thanks for keeping my secrets… even when I told your parents yours.
I know it’s been a long time, but I miss you.
Even though you didn’t think I noticed you watching me in math class, I did… and liked it.
Please, come to our reunion.
I want to see you without a photo filter. To tug your curly hair like I did during English class, and know the real stuff that a status update with well groomed children don’t reflect. I want you to confide in me the way that you did when you told me about your parents and the pain you felt of not being able to be measure up to their expecations. I want to hear you tell another self deprecating joke that makes me laugh and remember all the other times you made us laugh at the lunch table, even though you carried so much pain with you. I want to look at you and remember.
I want to remember the shared experiences of state champion football games, homecoming dances, and plays. I want to remember DECA and drama and Sophmore year scandals. I want to see how you have evolved and become greater than you imagined, and the ways that you wished that you were different.
-Come as you are,
as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend
As an old enemy -Nirvana
Most importantly, I want you to see me for who I am now, while remembering who I was. I want you to remind me that I can be dramatic, confident, funny, passionate and brave. I want you to remind me of the hope I had in myself and in my future, before years eroded my optimism. I want you to look at me and remember shared intimacy that defined us as we worked to become closer to who we are now.
I want you to know that our shared experiences are what I remember most about you. I want you to know that my hope for my children, is to have the same defining impact on others that you have had and continue to have on me. I’ll see you soon.