Life Lessons From My 30th High School Reunion

 

Night before reunion. Catching up with friends at the Mt. Washington Tavern.
Night before reunion. Catching up with friends at the Mt. Washington Tavern.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA IS AN ICE-BREAKER.ย 

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 FORMย 

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.

 

Sara

Sara

I write about daily life, arts & culture, food, books, nature, animals, parenting, relationships, self-discovery, & more.

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38 thoughts on “Life Lessons From My 30th High School Reunion

  1. Enjoyed your note/blog Sara. Very glad to have seen you and gotten one of your hugs. Wish I would have had more time to chat, but I missed seeing folks who were there because of the short time we had.

    Maryiln Maggid Harris told me she remembered someone putting tacks on your chair as well. I’m sure they only did it out of love!

    You were always a special friend Sara. So glad we have FB to keep in touch. I am overdue for a trip to Boston and have a lot of friends who keep encouraging me to come. I hope I can add you to the list. – Mr. J

    1. I wish we’d had more time too but so many people showed and I also missed a few I’d wished I’d seen. Don’t worry about the permanent damage I have from those thumbtacks;at this stage in life, it’s just one more blemish to youthful perfection. ๐Ÿ™‚ Please come to Boston and visit with me. Few teachers remain with you once you’ve left their class, but you clearly have stayed in my heart and in many others as well.

      Does this mean I can tell that Karen Baitch chick that I’m definitely your favorite?

    1. Thanks Ellen. It makes me happy to be building friendships with people I didn’t know as well in high school. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to see each other soon. Do you ever get up to Boston?

      Teary too when I think about how quickly the weekend passed.

  2. Sara

    What a great post. I know who each and everyone you are referring to is, just because I know them so well. It was a great weekend and I am so glad we had a chance to get together… sorry about the sangria thing! Keep writing , I can’t wait to hear how all your projects are going.

    1. Truly great to spend some time with you. I’d drink that sangria again. It was GOOD before the headache came. ๐Ÿ™‚ Look forward to connecting again . . . SOON.

  3. Sara-
    What a beautiful piece. Even though I didn’t attend Pikesville High I still have a connection through our years at Wellwood. Those are cherished memories for me and am glad to say that you are included in them. Another friend of mine also had his 30 year reunion this past weekend and was 95% certain he was going to deactivate his Facebook account. He has now decided it is not worth it because he would lose touch with so many. The next time u come into town or plan to we should try and get some Wellwoodians together. Always nice to hear and see what you have to say. I’m glad to call u a friend from long ago.

    1. We DID get a Wellwood picture which I’ll send on to you once it gets posted. Agreed about our own little reunion. I think we tried to make it happen this past weekend but too much was going on. Thanks for reading my blog!

  4. Reading this I felt like you took the words right out of my mouth. It was actually a really enjoyable night. The time went so fast. Thanks to the committee for a job well done!!!

  5. What a good piece, Sara. It was so good to see you while you were here. As I told you then, our class has had a few more reunions that yours (our 50th was in May), and the experiences have always been enlightening. And your insights about the Facebook element are so true. You’ve captured so much of it here today, and I will share it with friends. Thank you, dear Sara!

    1. GReat to see you and Gary! Thank you for being such a loyal follower of my blog. BTW, that Murray thing had me rolling on the floor laughing. See you later on Words With Friends and Facebook.

  6. Sara- Wished I could have attended. Missed everyone. Loved seeing the pics and hearing about it from Stacy and Johnny. Wish I wasn’t half way across the country. You look fabulous! Still the same after all of these years. I loved your blog. Really made me feel like I was there experiencing what you were feeling. Wonderful!

    1. Julie: How I wish you could have attended too. I miss you and would love to see you. Glad the blog gave you a little taste of the weekend’s experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Sara,
    I loved reading this. You really have quite a talent, keep it up! I too was skeptical about going to the reunion and am so glad I did. The entire night just flew by! Our commitee did an outstanding job – I especially enjoyed when Karen stood on that chair attempting to quiet a crowd of yappers!

    Take good care,

    Barb

    1. I didn’t see you at reunion. I’m discovering more and more people I just missed. Guess that’s what happens when you have such a good turnout. Thanks for reading this and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sara – I truly believe that is the most touching, genuine, heart felt blog entry I have ever read. I am so sad that I was unable to attend. But, this exquisite piece you wrote really put a huge smile on my face…..now….I need to peruse what other gems there are on your blog!

    1. Very kind, Jeffrey. Glad you are on the mend. Sounds like a not-fun way to spend reunion night. We’ll see you at the 35th.

      1. “My close friends from high school reminded me of many things which I wonโ€™t mention but also about how we used to take the long way home after we went out so we could drive by my crushโ€™s house to see if his bedroom light was on.”

        Was he there….at the reunion?!!!!

  9. You know they say when a philosopher arrives at their truth they stop aging. You must have arrived at your truth early on and kept it. Well done piece. I wasn’t friends with you in school, in fact, I don’t think we had many exchanges but in my lingo your pretty cool.

  10. Goosebumps, and a little teary. When it comes to reunions, some people just “get it.” Collective memories are wonderful things. I love you so much. And I’m pissed I wasn’t invited to breakfast (bitch).

    1. I think you try to make me cry. I love you too K. Next time I’m in town, I’ll plan a breakfast in your honor. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Sara, I sent your blog to some friends do me postedto our Facebook high school reunion page. You may soon have more aged followers

  12. I LOVED this Sara. I very much related and as I read thought about growing up in Wellesley and yes…my Brownie Leader! I loved Brownies and my mother still has a pin I made from Brownies and wears it every December! So much of what you shared is so true for all of us. But what I loved the most in the end is your comment….there are still things I am still learning about myself…..love that Sara, may you never stop learning those things!

    1. Your Mom wears your Brownie pin in December? That’s awesome! When we stop learning, we kind of stop living, yes? Thanks Christina!

  13. This is such a beautiful and universal post as the comments attest. Reading of your return home truly touched that perpetual nostalgia spot most of us carry around carefully cushioned and gently preserved. I’ve always looked forward to my HS class reunions and was sincerely disappointing when my own 30th came and went without the anticipated reunion.

    I can see so much of my own self in your thoughts here and thank you for sharing, Sara. Not only are your points fine and true, it’s nothing short of remarkable how facebook has worked so effectively to enable all of us to reconnect with the long ago and far away. I treasure all those who have crossed my path, touched my life, or imprinted themselves on my heart. It makes these interludes all the more treasured.

    1. Lovely way to express what FB has done, despite its negative attributes. Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m pleased that this post resonated with so many.

  14. Great Blog Sara! Very heart warming to read. I am sorry we didn’t have a chance to talk at the reunion. I was there for hours, and still didn’t speak to a lot of people that I would have liked to.

    1. Think we had a quick hello as I was zooming out before I burst into tears. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you are well and thanks for commenting on the blog.

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