Oh my gosh, you guys! My class reunion? Was SO. MUCH. FUN!
I am so glad I went! What an experience! I could have let those old high school feelings of insecurity and inadequacy hold me back as I have in the past. I’ve been skipping my high school reunions for years and there was a time that I believed I’d never attend another again. And it wasn’t because I just didn’t care or had no interest in going. It was because I was afraid of feeling the way I did all those years ago. It was easier to stay home and tell myself I didn’t care than to risk feeling like I didn’t fit in again. But this time, thanks in no small part to several of my former classmates, I was convinced to attend. I went from being completely reluctant to being nervously willing.
So, once I was convinced to attend, I felt it was my duty to convince Kendra, my high school best friend, that she must also attend. And this was no easy task. She and I were inseparable from the first day of freshman year. We drifted apart for a few years, but in the past year, we’ve reconnected again and it’s been wonderful! But, Kendra was not so easy to convince. She and I are similar creatures and she was more than reluctant to agree to attending. At one point I told her I was going to send in the money for both of us and then I would wait for her to let me know she was planning to go with me. The days passed by and the reunion loomed closer, and yet no commitment came from Kendra. One week before the date of the reunion, I was lamenting this fact to my sister, Cory when she excitedly told me, “I’ll go with you!”
I pondered that idea for a moment and a smile came over my face! Why not? What the heck! Cory had graduated two years ahead of me, so she’d know a few of my former classmates. It was perfect! I didn’t have to worry about going alone, or not going at all and she would enjoy a fun night out. And that is how it came to be that my sister attended my twenty-five year class reunion with me!
And so the big day arrived! I spent most of Saturday doing the usual weekend chores and such, all the while thinking about the big party that night. Of course, I had already been shopping earlier in the week for a new outfit to wear. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt the need to dress to impress!
And if I was already looking forward to the party, I became even more excited when my cell phone buzzed with a text message from Kendra on Saturday morning. “I think I’m going to go.” And that is how it came to be that my sister, Kendra and I all went to the twenty-five year class reunion together.
The three of us convened at my house and in short order, we were on our way to the Embassy Suites where the reunion was being held. As we came into the lobby, I saw a classmate with whom I’d not only graduated but gone to grade school, Jeff. We exchanged the obligatory “Hi-how-ARE-you-great-to-see-you” greetings and Jeff told us he was nervous about going in. He had arrived alone and was feeling nervous about going in. So we invited him to join our little crew and the four of us found our way to the check-in table. The first person I saw was Mike, the main organizer of the reunion and one of the classmates who was very persistent in convincing me to attend. It was apparent to me that my reluctance may have dragged on a little too long when he caught sight of me and gave me a standing ovation for showing! We shared a good laugh and Mike then directed us to write out our own name tags.
Now came the question of what to do with Cory. We couldn’t just put her own name on the tag. We toyed with making her Jeff’s wife, but a better idea soon surfaced…
A little back-story is in order here: About one-third of my high school class are Facebookers. For the most part, we have all friended one another. Now, one of our classmates is *Kari Edwards. At some point one of our classmates “found” Kari on Facebook, now going by the name of *Kari Marx Edwards, and friended her. Soon, as Facebook is prone to doing, the other classmates received friend suggestions to add Kari to their friends. And so we all did. And she accepted all of our friend requests. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to someone that Kari was now spelling her name “Carrie” instead of “Kari.” Upon further inspection, it was realized that “Carrie” was much younger than the rest of us and not a graduate of our high school at all. It was a case of mistaken identity, and Carrie Marx Edwards was now friends with a boat-load of people she didn’t really know. On the other hand, Kari Edwards was friends with none of us because she was listed only under her married name. We all got a good laugh out of that.
So, at the reunion, I gave my sister a name tag which read “Carrie Marx Edwards.” Problem solved and she was a great ice-breaker on a couple of occasions, especially when the real Kari Edwards stopped to talk with us.
But the best part of the reunion was seeing that all of those high school labels were gone. There were a couple of pre-reunion parties on Friday and one of them was a welcome back party for a classmate coming back from Florida. The party was jointly hosted by two women, one of whom had been very popular in high school, and another who had been an outcast. People who had never been a part of each others’ circle of friends were talking, laughing, catching up and bonding. It was awesome!
I loved hearing about people’s lives, talking for a while with Brian, who walked into his job in a marketing department one day, having no idea it would be the day he walked away from his career. He wanted something more out of life. He walked away from a successful marketing career to work with parents whose children have been murdered as well as with parents whose children have gone to prison. He runs support groups for these families in a very poor area of town. It was amazing to hear him talk. He was a person who clearly knew he was exactly where he belonged and he couldn’t wait to share all about it with anyone willing to listen.
I caught up with girls…errr…women, with whom I thought I’d had a passing acquaintance in high school, only to realize how excited they were to see me. There was so much squealing and hugging and talking it was almost overwhelming. It was then that I realized that it was I who had fueled my own feelings of insecurity. I now know that all the years of avoiding these reunions only served to make those feelings seem so much bigger in my mind than they probably ever really were.
I was amazed with how well everyone had aged. Well, the women, for the most part have aged well. I marveled at how beautiful everyone was! Some of the men had let themselves go a little, but no one looked really old, except for one guy, who turned out to be a former teacher, not a classmate! I talked with old friends, heard about their lives and families and told them about mine. And I talked with people who I had never really known in high school too. It was great having Cory along for this purpose. It started when she tried to discreetly ask me the names of a couple of people standing behind me. I had to look at the name tags, and I remembered the names, but soon realized that we had not ever really known each other in high school. But since Cory had asked, I turned to point to each and said, “This is so-and-so, and this is so-and-so.” And then so-and-so would smile, look at my name tag and we’d “reintroduce” ourselves and soon were talking away. I loved it!
The hours passed by quickly. Cory, Kendra and I left the party at a respectable hour. Word has it that many of the attendees carried on well into the morning hours, and Facebook reports promise more get-togethers soon, long before it’s time for another reunion. I definitely won’t need my arm twisted to go next time.
*names changed to protect the unsuspecting.