This last weekend, some organizer-type people I once knew kindly organized a meet to celebrate 20 years since we finished high school. My high school experience wasn’t the traumatic experience it was for a lot of people, so nosiness won out over laziness and off we went. (My husband came along, because he’s a good sport and also he knew at least two other people who were going.)
It was at a bar. No one really dressed up, I don’t think. Although I did put on mascara. Because I’m classy like that. There were pub appetizers and desserts from somewhere like Costco. The bar was kind enough to play hits from 1997, including some screens with the videos, which was amazing. (Hi Spice Girls!)
It was fun! After 20 years, there is enough distance from school that you aren’t emotionally invested in any of it anymore. (Assuming you ever were. I certainly was back in the day. Everything mattered. It was exhausting.) It’s just a party full of near strangers who have the shared experience of going to a large school made of asbestos in a part of town that snobbier people judged you for living in.
So, having come that far, I jumped in and mingled my heart out. (I am not a natural mingler, but both of my parents are extroverts, so I have more or less learned how to fumble my way through it.) Here are some of the people I spoke with on Saturday night:
- The friends who are still my friends and whom I still see every time I am in town, or if they ever leave the island. (Pro tip if you are from an island and are thinking about moving away – no one from your island will ever visit you. People from islands don’t like leaving islands. They are afraid of sea monsters or something.)
- A guy whose name I have forgotten already, but who looked vaguely familiar and who I may or may not have taken math with. He was very nice and I liked his girlfriend/wife too. We probably could have been friends in school. But we weren’t.
- Another guy I went to school with all the way from kindergarten but who I didn’t recognize at all. He just looked completely different. I feel a bit bad about it, as that’s pretty much all I said to him. I probably should have asked some questions about his life or something. Mingling fail.
- Several people who I really only knew from being in high school musicals together. Not that that’s nothing. There aren’t a lot of people who know all the words to both “Hair” and “Eye of the Tiger” floating around anymore.
- A woman who was a good friend in elementary school and who broke my heart when we drifted in high school.
- The wife of a guy I don’t remember even though he remembered me, but I shouldn’t feel bad because he apparently did some pre-reunion refresher studying. (I think this is the kind of thing that successful people do. It’s why they’re successful.)
- A guy who I think I sat next to in one class in my whole high school career, but who I remember as being lovely, and who seems to still be lovely.
- Several people who completely ignored me in high school. I don’t really blame them though. High school is a weird time with a lot of complex social rules that stop making sense shortly after you graduate.
- A guy – and this one doesn’t really count because I didn’t actually talk to him – who I don’t think I ever spoke to in school, but whose face I do remember. He looks like a Trent or a William, if guys in my town at that time didn’t all have names like Chris and Kyle and Brad. Why do I remember his face? Because it is exactly the same. Nice work, Trent. You have either taken exceptionally good care of yourself or are the product of some excellent breeding.
- A bunch of people who inexplicably have kids at least five years older than mine, which was just confusing since we all graduated together, so should presumably all be on the same timeline? (Obviously this is logical garbage, but it feels like it should be so. So when someone says, “Oh, my eldest is fourteen,” I know my forehead scrunches up as I do time math.)
- A woman who I didn’t know at all ever. I didn’t know her name or her face. We didn’t even seem to know the same people. But she seemed nice.
It wasn’t like reunions in the movies. It wasn’t dramatic. There weren’t any fights or rekindled romances or any scandal of note.
Unless there was and I missed that bit. Which would be just like me. I actually left as soon as the music got too loud to hear what people were saying. (Because even though it was my 20-year reunion, apparently I’m actually 90.) But assuming I missed nothing, it was just a night out.
People get older. They settle into themselves. They care less what other people think. They forgive or even forget old grudges. Their sharper edges get polished a bit by life. And then one day they go to a 1997-themed party and re-meet people they once knew and it is nice, and weird, and strangely worthwhile.