Up until the very night it was happening, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into attending my 30th High School Reunion. I was leaning towards not going…but I hadn’t really ruled it out altogether.
A few months ago, I joined the “Oh My God We’re Getting Old” Facebook group and sat back to watch it unfold. As one unrecognizable name after the next appeared on my screen, I actually checked my yearbook to see if I was in the right facebook group!
WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE???
In fairness to my over taxed brain and lack of memory, I DID attend a school with a large graduating class and I tended to hang out with folks who were a bit older than me…but honestly, I SHOULD have known a few more of the names that were popping up on the screen.
The night of the event, I hadn’t made my final decision when I posted this message…
…and then I hit the showers…just in case.
By the time I was ready, I didn’t have an invite from a hot, young, single guy…so I began to weigh the pros and cons of attending my reunion and basically it came down to this…
- I had nothing to do that evening anyway,
- There weren’t any kids at home demanding my attention or needing me to organize drives,
- The book I was reading was “interesting” at best so I wasn’t tied down to reading it, and
- I wasn’t currently wrapped up in a Netflix series.
1. No Good Excuse NOT To
Bottom line…I didn’t have a good excuse NOT to go…except for the fact that I had to walk into that room by myself…and that, my friends, takes nerves of steel.
So, I called the cab…and prepared to leave.
And on the way downtown…I almost had the cabbie turn around TWO different times!
The thing is…walking into a room full of people solo is never really my thing to begin with. I like having a supportive friend at my side and a good “exit strategy” figured out in case I need to bail.
Going into the reunion…I had neither.
I didn’t peak in high school. I wasn’t one of the “cool” kids and while I hung around with a lot of different people, I was more of a follower than a leader. In hindsight, I spent more time trying to fit in than I did trying to be myself and I didn’t know who I was back then let alone remember who anyone else was.
So, while I was pushing through my fear of walking into a room by myself…I was also dealing with a whole lot of internal dialog reminding me of the complicated turns my life has taken in the last few years, a bit of high school baggage that I’ve never really shaken, the size of my jeans and the few grey highlights popping out on my temples along with a number of other things that my over-active brain was taking advantage of the occasion to throw at me.
But here’s the thing…I’d made a promise to myself not to let my inner voice control me anymore! So, I continued in the cab, walked into the bar and was immediately embraced by my old friend Pam…followed with a hug from a friend who said they were taking bets on whether or not I’d show up, and a few nods from “hockey dads” who I typically only see in the rink and to be honest, forgot we even went to high school together.
2. Old Friends are AWESOME
And then, I muckled onto these girls…’cause they’ve always been there for me.
Through thick and thin and everything else in between…Linda and Tina know me. Like…really know me. They were part of a group of kids who greeted me on the playground at ten years of age when I moved here from Newfoundland that began sleepovers, school dances, junior high hockey games, camping trips, concerts and much, much more.
Years can sometimes go between our visits but we pick up right where we left off as there’s something incredibly joyous and safe about being with your childhood friends who knew you first.
3. The Laughter is INSANE
There were laughs throughout the evening as folks reminisced and caught up on each other’s lives and every now and then…a belly laugh escaped as we remembered the most ridiculous things imaginable from our childhood.
My abs were killing me…and I didn’t know I had abs!
4. You Get Younger as the Night Goes On
I walked into the reunion feeling old but a short time spent with these people and they were taking YEARS off my life just by being in their presence.
When the bar closed…we weren’t quite ready to go back home so the next thing you know, it was 2am and we’d moved the party to the rooftop patio where the kids on the dance floor were a solid decade younger than the reunion we were celebrating!
And as the rooftop bar closed and we were the last ones left…we decided “just one more” and headed off to the next location.
By 3:19…we were taking a selfie with a big moose head and talking about how different things were when we were kids…how we’d never been frisked going into a bar before and complaining that while they played songs that we all knew from the 80s, they only played the first verse of each song before quickly going on to the next but let’s be real…we’d probably only remember the first verse anyway.
And then it was time to say good-night.
Except…no one wanted to say good-bye.
So we continued up the hill to Pizza Corner where, on multiple occasions in our youth, we’d finished the night with a slice.
5. It Feels Good to Reconnect
I left my house at 8pm on Friday evening thinking I’d “pop in for an hour.” Almost nine hours later, I arrived back home at 4:45 in the morning with sore cheeks, a few more laugh lines, a spring in my step and dozens of out-of-focus, grainy selfies on my phone.
Social Media allows us to stay in touch with one another on a daily basis but there’s nothing like a real live conversation. Actually getting together…being there in person…connecting on a different level and sharing old stories…it’s really rather special.
I’d thought of multiple reasons for not attending my High School reunion but I’m really glad I managed to get out of my head and go out for the evening. What I discovered is that none of us are the people we once were. Our lives have all changed and twisted in multiple ways but a shared history binds us together and keeps us grounded to one another whether we remember each other’s names or not. We faced the same joys and challenges together as young people and the fact is, we’re facing the same joys and challenges now.
On Friday night, I walked into that room by myself…but I left, feeling much less alone.