Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reunions and memories

In high school I was painfully shy and introverted. We weren’t poor, but my parents weren’t wealthy either, and they weren’t going to go into debt buying the ridiculously expensive clothes that the cool kids wore (and rightfully so). I wasn’t as pretty as the popular girls, wasn’t athletic, and I had a tendency to be on the heavy side of the weight spectrum. When you consider that I also had very little self-confidence, you can imagine what a delightful experience high school was. I’m sure I’m not alone here.

Despite that, I have some great memories of high school, most of them involving band. I played the flute and piccolo and I felt at home among my fellow band geeks. I actually enjoyed showing up early in the morning for marching band practice, even when it was 30 degrees outside and I couldn’t feel my fingers. My band teacher (one of my favorite teachers of all time) would stand up on his scaffolding with his electronic megaphone, stomp his feet, and yell at us, “You guys look like a bunch of Jerry’s kids!” A lot of the other kids found him to be abrasive and mean, but there were a handful of us who loved Mr. P. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was pretty good at the flute either. I was first chair from freshman through senior years, and he treated his first chairs somewhat as “pets.”

Two of the friends I was closest to in high school I am still close to today. I kissed my first boy in 11th grade, and he became my first official boyfriend. And then I experienced my first heartbreak when he dumped me for another girl, and then took me back, and then dumped me again, and then – you see where this is going? Ah, young love. Anyway, I finally dumped him when I met the boy who would one day become my husband. Best decision I ever made.

This summer was my 20th high school reunion. I wasn’t going to attend because I went to the 10th and it sucked big time. Ten years ago I pulled up to the school, and all my teenage insecurities came flooding back. We went right back to the same cliques we were in when we graduated, and the popular people were still popular and so full of themselves. I felt like I did in high school – like an ugly, unpopular, shy, nerdy, band geek. So I fully expected this year’s reunion to be the same way and I wanted no part of it. But then I got an email and two phone calls from friends strongly encouraging me to attend, and I decided to go at the last minute. And you know what? It was wonderful.

It was completely different from the 10 year in that there were no cliques and everybody talked to everybody. I actually had wonderful conversations with people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day back in high school. It was so much more relaxed and nobody was out to prove anything. Some were fatter and balder, and nobody seemed to care or judge others' looks. It was just wonderful, and if I hadn’t gone I might not have rekindled some old friendships. And guess what? Mr. P showed up for the Friday night festivities at the school! It was great to see him again, and he even remembered me. We got to tour the school and show our families the classes and lockers we used to have. We went to tour the band room and when I opened the door, I was hit by a very strange and familiar smell. It's not a bad smell and I honestly couldn't describe it if you asked me to, but the band room smell EXACTLY the same way it did twenty years ago. It was a little frightening along the tour to see the new metal detectors installed at all the major entrances to the school, and a sad reminder of their necessity.

The weirdest thing about the entire reunion was when one of my old school buds told me that she couldn’t help but snicker when she saw my name tag. She said my married name means “lesbian” in German. I said, “Really? I’ve been married 15 years and nobody has ever told me that.” I honestly don't think she meant it in a mean way at all, but thanks to the lovely Krista, I know that she was mistaken. (Not that it would have been a bad thing if my name did mean lesbian either because, hey, I don't judge.) Oddly enough, my very first memory ever of school had to do with this same girl. It was the first day of first grade, my dad had just dropped me off at the classroom, and I was terrified. The teacher introduced me to the class and Stephanie came over and grabbed my hand and led me to my desk. It was such a nice welcome and it obviously left a lasting impression. But I digress. The entire point of this long post is to say that if it's reunion time for you and you are hesitating, you should really consider going. I took a chance and it was well worth it.

If you want to see any pictures, I have posted some on my Flickr account HERE.


Blogger KatyaR said...

I'm glad you went--I've never been that brave. (That and the fact that it's been THIRTY-TWO YEARS since I graduated from high school--how can that be?)

6:28 PM  
Blogger The Thinking Man's Babe said...

I love this post! Also, you know what's cute - I hung out with the band geeks in high school. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no musical abilities! But birds of a feather...isn't it funny, even in cyberspace, how like spirits can connect? One last thing: Lesbian in German indeed ;)))

10:19 PM  
Blogger zoot said...

My reunion was weird on SO many levels. But I'm very glad I went.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Krista said...

I even missed this post. I felt similarly about the reunion and how at 20 years people finally had matured that it didn't matter. Adolescence is just so cruel. Glad that is over, never to return until we go through it vicariously with our kids!

8:18 AM  

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