Thursday, June 18, 2009


Kristie, I'd love to hear about your high school reunion Was it your first? Your last? Surprises? Disappointments?

I skipped my 20th and have no regrets, but I am always interested in other people's experiences.

This was my fourth reunion ..... we had a tenth, a fifteenth which was rained out (literally -- we planned a family day at a park, and it poured buckets) a twentieth, and this was our twenty-fifth.

Well, my experience was good, but I should probably point out that I am one of those obnoxious weirdoes who loved high school and suffered none of the teen angst and drama that is so popular on current fake-reality television.

Also, my opinion is possibly skewed due to the fact I grew up in the same small town and attended the same small school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, then moved away for twenty years with my military husband. So it's very likely that my sense of nostalgia and sentimentality is greater than those people who continued to live here, and who could see their old friends from high school anytime they wanted. I view the opportunity to catch up with old friends as a treat and a privilege, but I understand that not everyone feels that way.

So, with that stated, I can admit, as the person in charge of tracking down old classmates for this reunion, that at first my feelings were hurt by people choosing not to attend. It was frustrating to try and find old classmates (there should really be some law that women who get married and change their last names have to register with an "Office of High School Connections" somewhere, or something) and to spend time searching the internet, and sending inquiry e-mails, searching old phonebooks, and cold-calling, and then receive no response or reply. Then, I didn't know whether to be more offended by the people who said it sounded like a great time, and they'd get back to me with their reservation and payment ..... and then I never heard from them again, or to be more offended by the people who said (either to my face, or through the grapevine) that they had no use or interest in any of us, and couldn't care less about attending.

Quick note --- I went to a small high school. Our graduating class was about 70 people. Blaine, on the other hand, graduated with over 400, and in the 27 years since he graduated, has talked to maybe three people. He said there were people who walked across the stage at his graduation that he had never seen before, and he never saw again. So I can understand why he is not interested in attending a reunion with people who he never knew, and who mean nothing to him.

I, on the other hand, feel like the situation at my high school was different. Every single person in my graduating class knew one another. OK, sure, maybe not everyone has kept in touch since high school (although a very large number of people HAVE) and maybe these people aren't best friends anymore .... but to basically say "I care so little about the people I graduated with, who knew me and knew my family and spent most of my formative years with me ..... that I can't take one evening out of my life to show up and even pretend I give a shit about how life has treated them for the past twenty-five years ....." was odd to me. I was excited to see these people -- I genuinely was interested in how things were for them, and what they were doing. I looked forward to visiting with them again --- to learn that they did NOT feel the same way about me? I am just shallow enough to admit -- was a little hurtful. And I started the weekend with a pretty good chip on my shoulder about it.

Then? I got over myself. We had about thirty percent of our class show up for this reunion (which I think might be about average for most reunions, no matter the number of graduates ...) and you know what? Every single person who came, came because they WANTED to. The vast majority brought spouses or dates who were good sports, jumped right in and got involved in conversations. (Many went to the same high school and graduated in different classes.) They were sincere and genuine, and they were more interested in reconnecting with the people who were there, than in wasting time wondering about the people who weren't. (That was one of the things I had worried about .... that the people who did come would think it was my fault for the large number of people who didn't ....) But, we talked and laughed and did all the "remember the time we dot dot dot" stories; I learned things about my classmates that I had no idea had happened in high school ..... some funny, some sad, and some I can't believe didn't land people in jail for the stunts they pulled!! Then, when the dinner was over, almost all of us went out as a group, searching for karaoke. Which we didn't find, but we still stayed out until after 1am. And it's my opinion that people don't stay out until after 1am unless they are enjoying themselves -- especially those of us over the age of 40! So it was a good lesson for me. Our numbers were small, but mighty, and this is one time where quality was more important than quantity. Bottom line, for the people who didn't want to go, the reason is theirs, not mine, and I shouldn't have wasted one minute worrying or taking it personally about why they didn't want to be there.

No huge surprises. No drag queens, no sex change operations, no one in the witness protection program -- unless, wait. Maybe *that's* why I couldn't find some people!!

We have doctors, nurses, titans of industry, teachers, preachers, truck drivers, police officers, homemakers, a local radio personality, and more. A few have died, and a few have been in jail. Most are simply enjoying life, with their families, kids, and even a small number of grandkids. Age has treated all my classmates well, it appears. A few more gray hairs, or pounds around the middle, perhaps, but they can still make me laugh, drudge up tons of good memories, and encourage me to ride a zip-line across a lake. So all told, I'd say they're pretty good eggs, and I give the weekend two thumbs up.

More importantly, my kids want to know when we're going back to do the zip line some more. Hey, they've got their priorities.


kimybeee said...

I graduated with 44 in my class and I didn't go to my 10 year reunion. I could have cared less about seeing anyone that I hadn't seen in all that time. By the way, I didn't have all the angst and drama either. I was the only one not stupid enough to marry the jerk I dated in high school.

When the planning commenced, I wasn't interested. Their was an "adult night" at a motel that sounds like it was the night for all the closet drunks to show their stuff. The next day was a "family picnic" at one of the guy's farms(he was a close friend in school), and yet, I still didn't choose to go. I found out later that it was more of a byob drunk fest, and who could ask for a better family enviroment than that? I was really relieved that I didn't take my small kids to witness that fiasco.

So, don't take it personally that many people choose not to "go back". I am happily married, two great kids, my bff from high school now lives across the road from me and our other bff has reconnected. We have had some great times lately looking at old yearbooks and photos together.

I am glad that you enjoyed your reunion. My 20th is next year, maybe I will go (NOT IF THEY WERE GIVING AWAY CASH), but the chance is there if I change my mind.


JoAnn said...

Loved this post and had to respond. I too was on the locating committee for our class (of 1981) of over 400 graduates. We had our 25th reunion 3 yrs ago and the turnout was about 1/4 of the class. Not great, but the group that did show up was a good one (and attended ones up to this point)and we still had a lot of fun. As part of the committee, you DO feel responsible for everyone enjoying themselves and you DO feel let down when people don't come... especially when most of them still live in town. Go figure. Thanks for sharing your experience and now I don't feel alone.

jadine said...

Or? You're easily contact-able, and the committee didn't contact you :( And by "you," I mean *me*.

Julie said...

Kristie, Thanks for the follow-up. Like Blaine, I had a large graduating class (535) and I have stayed in touch with only a handful.

Your high school experience sounds Idyllic. No wonder you wanted a similar experience for your children.

Thanks for the update!

Trish in Leesburg, VA said...

Sounds like so much fun- and kinda makes me wish I had gone to my 10yr a couple years ago. Well, maybe we'll have a 15 yr who knows?

Anonymous said...

Funny...I just recently went to my 20th College reunion and had a similar experience. There was a small turn out but those of us who went had a riot!!! (And it was 3:00am when we got home, BOTH nights!!! We took our job of "Pretending to be in college again" very seriously!!! And we paid dearly for it the following week!) No regrets. Good times.

jean said...

I had about 120 in my graduating class, have gone to all 3 reunions that we've had so far. They've been "OK" - surprised at the last one (20th) that people haven't really changed over the years (the drunks are still drunks, and there are still cliques).

BUT, I have had a GREAT time 'finding' old classmates on FB - some of whom I haven't seen since I graduated since they didn't go to any reunions. I think we have a group of around 20 or so people from our class as a group on FB now - and still growing. Maybe we will have 'found' everyone that way by the time our 25th rolls around. I had to find people for our 20th, and FB is MUCH easier than searching on the internet!

Cate said...

459 in my graduating class, and, admittedly, I hated high school. I was so damn awkward back then. Now, a completely different story. I went back for my 10 year and had an absolute ball. More self-confident, and since I do the radio gig now, I emceed it. Nerdy me was the emcee. So much fun.

Stefunkc said...

This was wonderful to read. I'm 'that' person for my class. Hunt them down only to be put off. One person actually told me, "Why would I want to go back and see all of you people?" Guess she didn't know I was one of 'them'.

Oh well, she missed out! Glad you had such a good time:)