It wasn’t even the week of the reunion, but I already started getting ready. Unsure if I would go or not, I began recon.
I needed to see what I was in for, if I were to go. High school wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my favorite time either. I was in the very low of the lower middle class of status. This made me awkwardly friendly with most people on a very basic level but lacking my place.
You can see why the invite for my 20th reunion left me feeling less than enthusiastic.
I should tell you invite is a strong word. It was a Facebook group announcement, that an old friend, recently reintroduced on my periphery, added me to. But it’s fine. Par for the high school course I guess.
I started doing what any Generation X/Millennial fence walker would do: I started some research. A bonus discovery is that some are even calling my in-between generation Xennials because we never really fit. They made us a hybrid. Seems appropriate.
Now you should know I use the term “research” loosely. “Recon” – while slightly more edgy and accurate – isn’t my first word of choice, but stalking sounds altogether creepy and illegal. I haven’t crossed those boundaries, I promise. We’ll stick with recon.
Here are a few things I learned while doing pre-reunion recon:
We’re all the same
I could look at so many faces and see who they were 20 years ago shining through. Maybe it was her eyes or the smile or the way he tilts his head, but I swear I could hold up today’s picture to a candid from the yearbook and it would be identical. If we could actually hold up pictures, that is. I’ll have to settle for my memory.
We’re all different
I know I just said we’re the same as we were seven thousand yesterdays ago, but we’re not. That many days changes people. Maybe it’s not in their smile or maybe it is the laugh lines and the furrowed brow. But it’s more than that. Time kept going and it took each of us with it. A lot of life happens in 20 years.
We kept going
Most of us have had the blessing to grow up. Sadly a few didn’t have that chance. Illness, addiction, or accidents prevented them from reaching this milestone, among many others, but the majority are walking this earth every day as full-fledged adults. When that feels hard we would do well to remember we are crazy blessed.
We grew up
We got older and became the age we thought we’d never be. I don’t even know how it happened. But I’m grateful to see I’m not the only one. The age we are now doesn’t even represent the “young, fun” teachers we once loved. We’re middle of the road, not yet old but no longer young. That may sound like a bad thing, but it feels incredibly secure to be in the middle sometimes.
We wear different labels
I’m not talking about clothing, although that is a huge consideration when it comes to reunions. We’re so much more than the nerd or the popular one or the jock. We have people and lives and jobs. Our new labels still define parts of us, but they seem to matter more. Mom, dad, survivor, teacher, wife, student, caretaker, husband. While they may not be everything, they just might be getting closer to the truest versions of ourselves. Don’t expect to see all of these at the reunion, however. People don’t always put their truest selves on display.
We’ve all had joy and we’ve all had sorrow. Life has a way of doing that. The handful of kids in the hallways that had the tough life were just trailblazers, paving the way for the hard things each of us would face. The circumstances all look different, but we don’t live in this world for 20 years without knowing a bit of hardship. Thankfully the same could be said about joy. Some may recognize it more than others, and I know I could benefit from a real life pep rally every now and again.
We are still petty
Sometimes at least. We hold onto high school ideas like a worn letter jacket that sits in the attic. The reunion is a typical time to pull it out, but you can’t go down memory lane without some memories. Not every memory serves us well, so choose carefully which ones you bring.
We’re more okay than we think we are
It’s easy to look at the outside, look at who people appear to be and think we know. She’s still gorgeous and thin so she must have it all together. I wish I had it together. He’s got a great job. Clearly he did something right and I’m still in the middle. But the truth is that we’re all okay. We’re all looking around to see where we measure up on some imaginary line, hoping we make the cut. If we remember that the line is imaginary maybe we’ll see that we’re all just there, remembering 20 years ago and celebrating today.
I’m still not sure if I’ll go to the reunion. Not because of fear or insecurity, but because I’m not sure it’s what I want to do. Whether we go to the reunion or not matters less than we think. Of course so do the shoes, but I don’t think that will stop us from trying to find the perfect ones. If you do go, find the shoes, but remember to be you when you get there.