High School Reunion: Reminisce - Reconnect - Nostalgia
Classmates pose for photo at Friday Social. We are not quite as old as the car.
High School Reunion
Reminisce - Reconnect - Nostalgia
by Mary Ellen Roelkey
The warm late summer night was stormy. The wind blew, flashes of lighting filled the dark threatening sky, tree limbs scattered the road ways and the rain pelted down. The rainy night was perfect for amphibians. None of the obstacles seemed to matter as the High School Class of 1972 staged its 35th anniversary reunion.
The room with the school colors (blue and white), was aglow with the excitement of the surprises that waited. The decor was suburb and the tables for eight were elegant. Sweet Nostalgia suffusing all the senses in my body. The words High School reunion can in flick both excitement and panic.
The room quickly filled with friendship, laughter, good cheer and fond memories as gray-headed, thick - waisted men and women reached back to recall only good moments and buoyant times when we groped toward adulthood.
Across the room at the table on the right was a old High School boyfriend. The memories come flooding back of him walking me to class while carrying my books. Ah the sweet nostalgia. Against the left wall is the old High School girlfriend, we talked on the phone for hours every evening after school about this boy or that fellow classmate. Ah sweet nostalgia. As I turn towards the door there entering the room is a fellow band member, the memories of the hours we spent on the practice field rehearsing the steps with the marching band. Ah sweet nostalgia.
When I graduated from High School in 1972, I never thought so much time could pass so quickly. I didn't think of getting together again with all those jocks, jerks and nerds. Over the last three decades, however, the onset of incurable nostalgia leads me to not only attend but to be on the planning committee of our gatherings every five years.
Receiving that invitation to your 35th High School reunion that excitement can quickly turn to panic. Had it been 35 years? More importantly why did I let myself go?
Nostalgia's an interesting thing because you only tend to remember the good parts, rather than the annoyances and the fact that you've come so far as a person since
High School. Especially in the beginning of High School when you are liberated from the realities of adulthood, the mind is free to imagine the possibilities.
I guess I am a sucker for the past. The part of being a teenager that is free, full of possibility, excitement and exuberance-that retrospective feeling like you're looking back on that exuberance fondly, remembering what it was like.
I love to know there is a continuum. I love to have connections. The fact that many of us go back to adolescence and childhood is one of the great joys in life. I think that it is rare. The fact that we knew each other as children - it is one of those memories that never loses its power.
The class was 203 strong at graduation and 72 attended, 40 of them the classmates the others spouses and friends. Among the classmates who gathered were veterans, world travelers, survivors of car wrecks, disease, strokes and heart procedures. Some did not survive and others watched as they fell. The students went on to become doctors, nurses, farmers, school teachers, ministers, authors, auctioneers, foresters, electricians, truck drivers, carpenters and florist. In 1972 the world was ours to conquer and explore. There were jobs to be found, further education to be had, and for some it was becoming new Moms and Dads. Some chose to travel many miles away and for others close to home was the place they stayed.
A classmate gave the blessing and we were underway. The buffet food was excellent and the tables of eight enjoyed one another and talk was free and easy. One of our classmates actually graduated from another High School, but went through the earlier grades with us. She said "I don't go to my other reunion because they are awkward and stiff, listen to how much conversation is going on in this room right now... Hear how loud it is? It isn't that way with my other school at all. You could hear the silverware on the plates."
The theme for the evening was around the class video. Mocking a premier showing and then mimicking Academy Awards presentations with goofy prizes (married longest, traveled farthest, and new class clown). Sherry, the committees' fearless leader who, more than any other individual, made the reunion happen, was aglow. "People traveled from New York, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to be here tonight, I think that is so neat!" She told us.
After the formal part of our gathering, we gadded about, talking with one bunch of classmates or another. The bar was always surrounded by a throng of people. Mingling was rampant. There was much hilarity. Every one was personable, friendly and fun to talk to.
We shared memories and retold class jokes; we were eighteen again in spirit. As we talked about the good old days the years rolled back and we were young for the night.
Conversations were lively, funny, sad and surprising. Discovering once again, because classmates were letting there hair down, that the years have been great equalizers. We have all had interesting lives filled with happiness and sorrow. No one has escaped.
During one of these poignant moments, a classmate chose to divulge two secrets.
"I had a mad crush on Sherry in High School." And "I had a master key to the High School in my junior and senior year, I inherited it from my older brother."
Linda revealed to us, "I can't miss a reunion; it is not like High School with the Clicks. Everyone enjoys each other and we all talk and laugh together...We genuinely like each other that is why returning to the reunions is so special."
Reunions give you the urge to make a good impression - and produce a padded resume. Success is too often defined as svelte as Julia Roberts and as rich as Bill Gates.
Ways to make a good impression in spite of anxiety and angst is to be yourself, be a good listener and be honest about your life...up to point. You don't need to reveal that you are a recovering alcoholic or mention you failed marriages or years in jail. At class reunions we want to show former friends and foes (especially foes) we've conquered our demons and emerged as a well-adjusted (and preferably well-healed) adult. A High School reunion is a chance to give those who would have least expected it the impression that you turned out to be a success in life after all.
Everyone should make an attempt to go to their reunion it is good for the soul. Reunions are a time to reflect on times past and revisit and renew old friendships. The one thing I would tell graduating seniors is to remember your roots and the good friendships you made in High School. They are the foundation on which you grow.
Class reunions can be nerve-racking but usually end up exhilarating - renewing friendships, sharing memories of the days when we were young and innocent.