20 Years Later…

reunion pic

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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Turkey Floats

puffy turkey man

In yesterday’s post about the dead turkey, I mentioned the males are beginning to display.  So I thought I would elaborate with some photos.

If you are from Philly, then you know who the Mummers are.  If you are not, then you are missing out!  The Mummers are a Philly tradition.  They are a collective of local neighborhood clubs composed historically of men; nowadays there are lots of women too.  These guys & gals get together over the course of each year to put together elaborate costumes and routines for an annual New Year’s Day parade.  Some of the Mummers play instruments, others are strictly theatrical.  But all of the costumes are over the top.  Think MORE is MORE.

Here is an elaborately costumed Mummer.

And here is one of the male turkeys in full display.

Being from Philly, I can’t help but think of the Mummers.  The male turkeys glide across the yard like mini parade floats.  They strut, they cluck, it’s crazy.  They want these lady turkeys SO BAD!  But the girls, quite honestly, don’t seem to want anything to do with them.  I saw one female (she must be one of the hottie turkeys b/c the males were surrounding her, strutting & bobbing like mad) she practically flew across the yard to get away from them.  And seriously, can you blame her?  Just look at those big red sacs – can you imagine some dude following you round Target w/ a dangly scrotum stuck to his face?!  YIKES!

I want to be a Roller Girl.

gracelesskelly

For years I have harbored a secret desire to do something that both thrills & terrifies me to the core.  And today I am finally telling the world.

I want to be a Roller Girl.

rollergirls

You may not be familiar with Flat Track Roller Derby.  To be honest, I’m a newbie myself.  But when I first heard about it, several years ago in Philadelphia, I was blown away.  Roller Derby is simply the coolest, most empowering sport for women EVER.  I wanted to try out for the Philly Roller Girls then and there, but.. But…  I didn’t know enough about it.  I’d never even been to a game!  At the time, my kids were small, and to top it off – I have Meniere’s Disease.  B/c of Meniere’s I can’t do all sorts of things.  Eat salt, Fly, listen to an iPod, have dental work, the list goes on.  Can you imagine what ROLLER DERBY COULD DO TO ME??!!  In short: I was afraid.  Very afraid.  Of getting hurt, of getting vertigo, of putting myself OUT THERE.  And so *Roller Girl* got shelved.  Until last week.  When I read the Philly Liberty Belles were coming to town.  Saturday night, instead of sitting on the couch watching a movie, I took Maddie to the Portland Expo for our very first Roller Derby.

rollergirls1

WOOT!!

If you are new to this sport, like me, then you may have questions.  Important questions.  Like The Rules.  I’ll be honest.  I don’t know them.  But having watched one bout, here’s what I’ve learned.  The bout (or game) is divided into two 30-minute periods, separated by a 20-minute intermission.  The basic gist – and forgive me if I am wrong – 5 skaters from each team are on a circuit track.  Eight women (4 from each team) form a big heap up front.

thepack

The remaining 2 girls (one from each team) start behind on a different line.  They are the Jammers.  They score points.

jammers

The whistle blows.  The pack takes off skating and the jammers follow.  The women up front try to block the opposing team’s jammer from breaking through the pack.  The jammers each try to break past the pack to get out in front.  The best jammers act as both offense (trying to get out in front), as well as defense (simultaneously blocking their opponent jammer).  Whichever jammer gets in front of the pack first is pointed out as LEAD JAMMER by a whistle toot and a pointing referee.  That lead jammer now skates round the track to score points.  The rest of her team tries to keep the other jammer back.

thejam

Players can get penalties for doing bad stuff.  I am not sure exactly what.  But it seemed to involve pain. Or maybe just poking.. It’s hard to tell.

pain

When a player is bad they get sent to the penalty box for a period of time.

penaltybox

Those three people on the stage (behind the penalty box) were the MCs.  They were great.  Providing running commentary and helpful tidbits of information all bout long.  I particularly liked the way they kept encouraging the crowd to root for both teams and give lots of love to all the players.  No nasty bloodlust here!  Also fun was the interaction between MCs and the “Beer Garden” crowd.  HOW’S EVERYONE IN THE BEER GARDEN? they would ask — to a ROARING response.  I LOVE ROLLER DERBY!

Unlike many other sports (I am talking to YOU, golf) Roller Derby is ACTION PACKED and incredibly entertaining to watch.  The bout literally flew by!

One thing that struck me about the sport is how incredibly supportive all of the women are toward each other – opponents included.  Before and after the game, the teams lined up to slap hands.

rollergirls3

And at the end of the bout, the teams huddled to select an MVP from the opposing team.

thehuddle

Each MVP was announced and then given the opportunity to speak to the crowd; both heaped praise on the opposing team.  It was lovely.  A sport that not only empowers women to be strong and fierce, but celebrates each others talents – WELL.  Count me in.

After the bout we stayed to meet many of the Liberty Belles.  Maddie had them sign her program.

autographs

Everyone was super nice, and more than one player encouraged me to try out.  When I asked BUT Won’t I get the crap kicked out of me?? I was told Of COURSE! EVERYONE DOES.

HOW CAN I RESIST?!

gracelesskelly

Even the refs look GREAT!

WANNA KNOW MORE?? ME TOO.

Wikipedia’s entry on Roller Derby.