1. SOCIAL MEDIA IS AN ICE-BREAKER.
Facebook gets a bum rap but it gave me the push I needed to go to my 30th high school reunion. And I’m not the only one. One friend told me he almost turned around as soon as he arrived at the last reunion (25th)) because he felt so disconnected from the grown-up versions of people he once knew, but at this reunion, he felt more at ease because he immediately saw faces (like mine) of people he “sees” regularly on Facebook. We may not know much about each other as adults, but we’ve seen each others’ family photos or experienced each other’s sense of humor or political leanings or learned something about each other’s career path or creative talent. These non-threatening interactions open up a way into conversation and opportunities to form more meaningful connections.
2. SUBTLETY IS AN ART FORM
I was chatting with a classmate who has always been smart and successful. He is now CEO of a well-known company. When I mentioned that I live in the Boston area he told me he just came back from a conference there. Then he proceeded to ask me if I knew who the conference co-host Jeb Bush was. As in a former President’s son and another former President’s brother. As in the former Governor of Florida. As in somebody that most people in this country would know. He backpedalled immediately but I couldn’t help but wonder how somebody who was in most of my classes in high school and knows that I am relatively smart would assume that I was that out of touch with basic politics. Later, same guy sees me posing with our elementary school class for a photo. He says, in earshot of me, “I thought I didn’t meet Sara until junior high school.” I didn’t bother to tell him that we edited the sixth grade newspaper together or that we were friends back then.
3. WE ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO FIND AND PURSUE OUR PASSIONS
Thirtieth high school reunion: do the math. Most of us are 48 years old, an age that I used to think of as old. No longer. In my opinion, if you do the things that bring you joy, you age much slower than those who are going through the motions. One classmate, who’d always loved singing, told me she was playing with a gritty rock and roll band at clubs on the weekend. Another, learned to play the mandolin at age 40 and has become an award winning mandolin player (is that what you call it? mandolinist?). He says more recently he’s taken up classical guitar. Another classmate was an actress and playwright for many years and recently began writing for television.
4. BY THE TIME I REMEMBER TO TAKE PICTURES, IT IS ALWAYS TOO LATE
I deliberately removed my IPhone from its case before the reunion so it would be easy to take out and snap photos of these people whom I probably won’t see in person for years. Throughout the night, I watched others take photographs and I even posed for a few photos BUT only once did I remove my phone from my bag. A few people were showing pictures of their kids and I happened to have some of my family on my phone so I joined in. Even when it was out, I didn’t snap a picture. The next day as photos from my reunion started showing up on Facebook, I remembered how I had forgotten to take any of my own. Guess I’ll be taking a lot of screenshots of my classmates’ photos.
5. SOME PEOPLE JUST KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO ORDER PIZZA
There was a bar. There were passed and tabled hors d’oeuvres. There were Hershey’s kisses scattered across the tables. Then, around 11 pm, a pizza delivery guy arrived with stacks of pizza boxes, which he dropped on a table. Within ten minutes, all of the pizza was gone. It ends up one of our classmates called in an order just at the right moment. When I found out who it was, I wasn’t surprised. He’s always been one of those people who just knows things like it’s time to order pizza.
6. OLD FRIENDS REMEMBER WHO WE ARE AT OUR CORE
I arrived in Baltimore a few days before the reunion so I had a few extra days to catch up with old friends (and spend time with my Mom). My best friend from elementary school told me how every time she sees our childhood Brownie leader, the woman reminds her of how we went up to her the first day of Brownies and told her we were going to cause trouble for her. My close friends from high school reminded me of many things which I won’t mention but also about how we used to take the long way home after we went out so we could drive by my crush’s house to see if his bedroom light was on. Another friend told me he’d forgotten how infectious my laugh was. Someone I was close to in elementary school showed me a picture of her birthday party where I seemed to be monopolizing the cake. But it was the pre-reunion and after reunion gatherings with friends where we immediately fell back into our friendships as if time had not passed that reminded me of who I was then and who I am now and that on a very basic level, the two are the same.
7. IT’S HARD TO SAY GOODBYE
When it was time to leave the reunion, I started saying my goodbyes. With each hug and promise to stay in touch, I realized how hard it was going to be to keep that promise to everyone. After one of my oldest friends hugged me tightly for a long stretch and told me she loved me, perhaps a little drunkenly but sincerely, I knew that I couldn’t say goodbye to anybody else that night. My emotions were about to explode out of my chest and the tears were about to fall. I rushed out of the room, out of the hotel, only to see two of my classmates sneaking a cigarette outside. I was so thankful for them because I could lighten my own mood, teasing them about being the bad girls of the class.
8. EVEN IF IT’S HARD, YOU’RE SORRY LATER IF YOU DIDN’T SAY GOODBYE
I hadn’t left the reunion but ten minutes before when I got a text from one of my closest high school friends. “You didn’t say goodbye (bitch).” I had looked for her but after the hug that put me over, I stopped looking and went away. Luckily, I did get to see that friend at breakfast the next morning along with a few others and said those goodbyes then. BUT, there were so many people that I wished I had hugged again and said goodbye. I know that as hard as I try, life will get in the way and I will lose touch with many people I’d like to see again soon. Facebook will help some but talking to people face to face will always win out for me.
I never thought I was the type to enjoy school reunions. I guess there are still things I’m learning about myself.
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