a) “Oh ho, Huffygirl, you couldn’t possibly be old enough to be attending a 40 year class reunion!”
b) “So Huffygirl, did you write on slates and sit around the wood stove back when you were in high school?”
c) “So Huffygirl, did you walk uphill both ways in the snow to school back then?”
Well, I hope you all picked “a” because in no way do I feel like someone who has been out of high school for forty years. But alas, it’s true, and I found out a few things about life by attending this reunion.
1. Fortunately, almost everyone grows up somewhere between high school and 40 years later. The chubby, sloppy boy who sat next me in eighth grade who spent most of the school day hiding behind the lid of his desk, licking paste, is now a tall, fit successful professional. And to think that I hesitated to give my son the same first name as this Adonis, afraid that he too would turn out to be a paste-eater. (He didn’t)
2. Those who do not grow up do not always cope well. Unfortunately, some of my classmates who did not attend were either: deceased through unfortunate lifestyle choices, incarcerated, or among the classmates labeled simply as “lost.”
3. Most cliques die after high school. Yes, finally, the cheerleaders and football players may now sit with the science geeks, metal heads and smart quiet girls (I’m not thinking of anyone in particular here.) Adulthood (which I used to think was the same word as adultery) is a great equalizer. Once we got away from high school we became confident enough to grow and learn how to be who we are, without the protection of our gangs. Well most of us did, anyway.
4. Hair color is a wonderful invention. I’ve seen all gray, and I’m not ready to be there yet. But hey, for some people it works great. I’m thinking of Anderson Cooper , who by the way, did not attend my high school.
4. Some people need to get away from home to find their way. There were plenty of kids (I still think of us as “kids”) who stayed in our small town, married someone they dated in high school and turned out perfectly happy. I was not one of them. Maybe my feeling of exclusion as the smart quiet girl (oh did I let that slip?) is what made me feel like I never belonged there, but I couldn’t wait to leave my small town and become who I was supposed to be. It’s not that I had to move far or go to a huge city, but I had to go somewhere fresh and different – somewhere where I was not the smart quiet girl, just a girl. Somewhere where I could have a little bit of an adventure, try things I had not done before, and challenge myself a bit. I married a man who was not from my town, went to colleges in three different cities over a period of many years, and found my niche in life completely separated from old high school friends. Some people need to do that, others don’t.
5. The reason a lot of classes have 40-year reunions is because not everyone makes it to the 50-year reunion. Although I like to think of we 71-ers as still young, I found some of my classmates are not aging well. In particular, some of the cool kids who were smokers back in 1971 were not looking as fit as they ought for folks who are not yet 59. Nobody was on oxygen (yet) but I worry if we’ll all make it to the 50-year mark. I wanted to get up on my huffygirl soapbox and say “People, take care of yourselves – we’ve got a long way to go yet”
6. The music of the sixties and seventies is still the best dance music, hands down. The class of 1971 grew up with some of the best music of the century – Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and more. I don’t remember the names of all the groups were heard, but I’m glad we were dancing to the beat of the same music that led some to protest, some to Woodstock, some to try “free love” and some to seize the beat of that drum to find who they were during tumultuous times.
We as a class have been through a lot together. We filed onto school buses as we feared aggressors coming to take our freedom. We sat side by side at our desks as we learned that our president had been shot. We celebrated proudly as our country sent men to the moon. We mourned our classmate marching off to a war that to most of us seemed wrong. Yet, here we are, 40 years later, mostly intact, mostly doing well, and finally, grown up. We made it. We arrived. To the class of 1971, I say, I’m glad I saw you, I wish you the best, and hope to see you in another 10 years!
© Huffygirl 2011