I went to my 25th high school reunion last night. I realize by mentioning the year, I've given you enough information to figure out that I am, in fact, old. For the longest time, I was always the youngster in the group, what happened? Thankfully, I still look fairly young. At least that's what my old high school mates told me at the Elks Club last night. For that, I suppose I have good genes and low stress living to thank. After all, I grew up in a time before UVA/UVB sunscreens and Paba. In those days, you could find baby oil on the sunscreen shelf. So I consider myself doubly lucky. Or living on borrowed time.
In any event, my reunion was a lot of fun. If you get a high school reunion invite in the mail someday, I recommend you go. It's your chance to sneak through a little wormhole and be transported back to a forgotten era of your life. It's the strangest thing, standing again in a room full of people you literally grew up with. But something's different. Everyone's been morphed into grown-ups, with jobs, and kids, and responsibilities. Some with a few extra pounds or a few less hairs. Guys you idolized as a kid are just regular guys now. The girl of your adolescent dreams still looks great, but now she's got a ring on her finger and a picture of her two beautiful little girls in her pocketbook. It's a bit surreal, but in a good way.
You work your way around the room, saying hello to friends you haven't seen for over half your life.
"Great to see you."
"Great to see you."
"Where you living now? Got any kids? What are you doing?"
"I'm living in... 2 kids... Selling life insurance... And you?"
Couple laughs, a story or two, swig of beer, and it's off to the next group of high school friends.
I was impressed there was no, 'look how successful I am' or 'aren't my kids amazing'. Just genuine happy to see you again after all these years energy.
And aside from the collage of high school yearbook photos on display and the Pina Colada song playing in the background, there's little reminiscing of the old high school days. Everyone seems interested in the now. I like that. Someone mentions 'wouldn't it have been cool to have some of our old teachers here'. I concur and wonder which ones are still around. There's a few I'd like to thank for skills I thought trivial as a tenth grader. Like typing and writing. Many of those teachers seemed old two and a half decades ago. But then again thirty-two seems ancient when you're seventeen.
My reunion was also one with my old hometown too. I made the obligatory drive by the house I grew up in. Cased some of the old haunts. My favorite fishing hole. The not-so-big-anymore hill we used to race down on our 3-speeds with the banana seat and baseball cards clacking in the spokes. Again, it's all so 'the same but different'. The old corner store at the end of my road has grown-up into a strip mall, fully equipt with gelateria and eco-friendly dry cleaner. The little schoolhouses I shuffled to every morning with my Partridge Family lunchbox have been transformed into giant educational complexes that look more like correctional facilities. I grew up in a town that didn't have a single fast food joint until I was in college. That same town now has a mall, a Home Depot, luxury condos on every downtown block, and garden style apartments that sell for $250K.
I was raised in a quaint little town just like my new hometown of Easthampton. It makes me wonder where it'll be in a couple twenty years. I'm sure it'll be more developed and seasoned by time, but hopefully still look good and retain a bit of its charm.
Just like that gang I hung out with last night.