20 Years Later…

Weeks ago I blogged about whether or not to attend my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  I detailed the specifics and asked readers to weigh in on the issue (via the post SHOULD I STAY or SHOULD I GO?) Thanks to many of you for offering your opinions and encouragement (and even bigger thanks to my folks for getting me a free hotel room), I made the decision to – GO FOR IT!

I spent Thanksgiving Day in Maine with my family, cooking and feasting, and the rest of the weekend traveling to & from Philadelphia for this “once in a lifetime” event.  And as promised, I’m BACK to blog all about it!  WOOT!  I’ll try not to dwell on the drive – which for a normal person would have been grueling but for someone like me (with Meniere’s) was just shy of hellish, and instead focus on the PARTY.  My 20 year high school reunion in a nutshell?  CRAZY FUN.  Truly one of the most unforgettable and surreal experiences of my life (drive included).

Picture yourself traveling back in time… 5 years.. 10 years.. 15, 20… You step into a room filled with former classmates, and…

From the moment I arrived at the reunion, I was transported – not just back to high school, but all the way to childhood.  Greeting me at check-in was a friend I’d known since I was 5, who’d slipped a Van Halen poster into my 6th grade desk to impress me.  There stood friends I’d known for YEARS, people who’d played with me as children, laughed with me as adolescents, and Yes, even dated me as teenagers.  Most of my very best friends were in attendance, all of us reunited under one roof.  And seeing each of their faces, changed after so many years, and yet so fundamentally the same, was worth every bit of the travel agony I had endured.

My 20 year high school reunion was amazing, not just because of the memories it brought back, but because of our collective present.  Teenage insecurity, awkwardness and fear be damned!  Each of us returned to this reunion armed with 20 years of personal growth.  Regardless of career choice, whether married or not, childless or not, rich /poor/ or in between, all of us are now (thankfully) adults.  And at age 38/39, most of us seem to like ourselves.

And you know what?  It shows.  From the get-go I was astounded by just how great everyone looks!  Sure, we’ve all aged, but on the whole we’re far more attractive now than we were in high school.  Why?  Because 20 years later… we’ve grown up.  And not just up; we’ve grown INTO ourselves.  As teens we thought we knew everything, but we spent more time wondering what others were thinking than ever truly thinking.  We worried, we picked, we agonized over minutia.  Time has erased many of those petty concerns, replacing them with understanding and PRIORITIES.  We’ve faced challenges, we’ve made accomplishments and we didn’t need to waste the night trying to prove anything.

Instead we enjoyed each other, and ourselves. We made chit-chat with those we recognized, we delved deep with those we’d truly known, and I for one came away changed. That’s what happens when you reunite.  You can close a chapter on your life with a smile, and without regret. Whether you’ve told someone they were special, or said you were sorry for a past wrong, reunions are an opportunity to explore another side of yourself. A former side, finally at peace with the present.  It was a wonderful night.

Huge thanks to the reunion committee for all their hard work, and to the many people whose photographs I’ve reprinted here — thanks for the memories!

Photos courtesy of Amy Eisman Kaplan, Jill Katz, Shawn Kwon-Chang, and Brian Miller, Chorus Media.
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16 thoughts on “20 Years Later…

  1. I so understand what you mean about ‘growing into ourselves’. So very, very true. I am THRILLED you decided to go and had such a banging time. You look SO HAPPY in every picture.

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    1. Hayden, of all people I cannot imagine you being anything but supremely grown up – at any age! That said, I am so happy to be an adult now and wouldn’t go back to high school even if you paid me. Though revisiting friendships is great at any age!

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  2. I’m so glad you followed your heart and decided to go. As always, your support and love of others comes through in this post and I’m sure that this essence came through to everyone who attended the event.

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    1. I knew I should go b/c YOU said so! HAH! I’m so happy I did, though. It was a rough couple days travel – the drive back nearly did me in (no joke) – but it was worth it for the experience. I’ve always loved my friends, but 20 yrs later I appreciate them even more. Something to be said for maturity.. like fine wine, I tells ya!

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  3. honestly, you crack me up. i can’t believe you actually went to your reunion! i love the photos–especially the before/after ones. everyone does look great and i’m so happy you had fun. i’m pissed that we didn’t get to meet up, though.

    xoxoxo

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    1. You KNOW it, babe – I am aaaalllll about DOING! Glad you enjoyed the pics – frankly, I’m just glad other people were taking them. It was one of the few times I’ve left my camera at home. (Or in this case, hotel.) It’s fun being on the other side of the lens! Once in a while anyway. PS: as for meeting up, it’ll have to wait. The SLOBS reunion 2011?

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  4. I’m glad you went! You’re just a little younger than my daughter, and the old photos reminded me of her hair and dress styles! I was interested what you said about ‘closing a chapter’…..maybe that’s one of the reasons for these events..closure. however you all seem to have had a whale of a time being there and meeting…with no teachers about!

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  5. Harry & Tony — much fun was definitely had by all. As for the 80s hair dos and clothes, SO GLAD we weren’t required to retro dress for the occasion. Hideous stuff. Even though I could tell who most of the attendees were, identifying people after 20 years was sometimes a challenge. Everyone looks great, but some have changed so dramatically it wasn’t until after getting home I realized WHO THEY WERE! Duh…. And as for teachers, forget it. They got off lucky. The only one I might recognize after all this time would be my beloved French teacher (who, coincidentally, used to constantly have to tell me (en francais) to “shut up.”) I was a real chatterbox back then.. can you imagine?! LOL

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  6. Yay!! I’m so glad you went! I was hoping you’d go alone rather than not go at all. It looks like you had a fabulous time. Good for you!
    I loved everything you said, especially in the second to last paragraph. I felt the same way after reuniting with my old classmates and childhood friends.

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Tammy! Seriously. Having so many people tell me I should go – and go it alone – really cemented the idea in my mind. I wanted to see everyone, and I am SO GLAD I was able to make the trip and attend. It’s interesting, the chair of the reunion committee commented afterward (something like) “You know a reunion’s a success when the people who didn’t come are PISSED.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

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