Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why Should I Attend My 20th High School Reunion?

With mixed feelings, I am a part of my high school reunion committee. I have more than enjoyed reconnecting with those on the committee, but there is a bit of stress in the planning process and the "what if no one comes" thought is always lingering in the back of my mind.

I enjoyed my high school years, but they were also full of angst, awkwardness and the daily highs and lows of what I imagine are typical for those early pubescent years. While working on this committee, all those good and well, not-so-good memories have been thrust to the front of my brain. Interestingly, when discussing them with my former classmates I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Time has a way of distorting much of what I remember as being factually accurate.

2. Twenty years is a long, long time to retain everything that occurred in high school. Most of us remember with some vivid detail our closest friends, vaguely remember just the names of those on the outside of our circle and those beyond that are simply forgotten.

3. No one, with rare exception, is the same as they were in high school. Every one has ridden the roller coaster that is life since graduation day - life full of elation and devastation, dreams realized and dreams unfulfilled, careers, marriages, divorces, and children, moving away and remaining here. I am not the same person as I was in 1989 - not mentally, emotionally and definitely not physically either.

Despite where life has taken us and the evolution of who we now are, we still have a common bond; We are the class of 1989. Some still say we were the best class to ever pass its hallowed halls. I say we were unique, a class that seemed to be unified despite our friend groups and interests. It comes at no surprise then that I find myself "friends" on facebook with more than 100 people just from my high school, mostly from my graduation class. Technology such as facebook and myspace have reconnected our generation more than any other and so it begs the question, why should I go? I already know what most people are doing, where they are living and visit my closest friends from that age on average once a year. And, frankly, why do I care?

1. Modern computers are great, they do not replace face time. Seeing someone, laughing (and not LOL-ing), telling stories, recounting lives is not the same as instant chatting over facebook. Being able to shake hands, hug, and reconnect in the flesh will never replace sitting behind a screen and keyboard.

2. A chance to gather at one place at the same time. I see my close knit group of high school friends fairly regularly - some weekly, some once a year, but have not been all together at one gathering in at least 4 years. One person I have not seen once in 15 years and she was one of my best friends, filling a spot in nearly every high school photo I have. This reunion gives me the chance to create a collective memory with those that shared in those teenage years.

3. It is one weekend. One night only, if you only choose to attend the main event on Saturday night. One weekend out of the last 1,040 that we have lived since graduation. Seriously, no one can't sacrifice a night with those statistic, right?

4. Reliving the past. I don't think anyone is pining away for their high school days. Yet, every once in a while it is a hoot to laugh it up about the ridiculousness that occurred in the late 80s. Who doesn't look back at those 80s hairstyles and fashions and roll in hysterics? At the time, I remember thinking that I just couldn't look more "in style" than those days with that a-line hairstyle (orange due to the overinduldent use of "sun-in"), acid wash jeans and big earrings (which have revolved back in style, by the way). Reviling in the years of our youth, of little responsibility and lots of drama is a rite of passage.

5. If you still aren't sure about coming, think of it as a last-chance prom, complete with all your favorite tunes from the late 80s. A photographer will be there to capture the memories, too. This time, your date will most likely be someone you wish you had gone with the first time. And hey, this time, if you want to go to that hotel room after, you will be legal!

6. The reunion is a night where all the planning has been done for you. I can't remember the last time I got a night out that I did not have to organize in some way. Of course, I won't get this either as part of the committee, but YOU can.

7. Grandover. The location of our reunion is reason enough to attend. It is beautifully stunning with multiple areas where groups can hang out and reconnect. Additionally, the secured room rate should make every one think twice about going home after this event.

8. Your attendance means more to everyone else than it does you. Instead of thinking, "What do I have to gain from attending," begin thinking, "What do others gain from my attendance?" You may not care to attend, but your classmates DO care if you are there. Personally, I find it utterly fascinating to hear what paths people have traveled in their lifetime. Maybe you think yours is fairly bland, maybe you aren't happy with what you have "accomplished," maybe life didn't pan out as you planned. Not only am I sure this is an innacuracy created by your mind, don't let insecurities prevent you from attending! Adding to that, through facebook, I have found I have quite a bit in common now with people that I didn't have the chance to be friends with in high school. I can't wait to see them at the reunion!

9. Closure. Did you leave something unsaid or undone? Now, I don't mean dredge up that time that someone stole your significant other and view the reunion as your chance at revenge by bringing out the boxing gloves to kick some booty. What I mean is, did you miss that opportunity to tell someone what an impact they made on you during those years? Did you pass up the chance to speak to a classmate because that would have been "uncool" at the time? Is there a classmate who has had a particularly difficult journey since high school who you can encourage?

10. It only happens once in our lives. Who knows if there will be another reunion? Who has the guarantee of life tomorrow? That might sound a bit morbid, but realistically, there is a strong possibility that someone at this reunion will not be around in 10 years. Don't wish that you had attended.

For those reading that aren't a part of my high school graduating class, the song accompanying this post is our class song. "Freebird" by Lynard Skynard. What can I say - we were a southern, rural high school with a lot of pride, a slight redneck feel and a smoking area. To quote the first part of the song:

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.

Class of 1989, it is time to reunite, reconnect with old friends and share your life experiences with others. Hope to see you there.


Angela said...

Great job, Kels- Thanks for taking the time to write it. I doubt that many schools can boast of having their own officially-sanctioned smoking area.

debi said...

sheeeesh........i'll look at tickets again.... :)

Sheila Leamojn said...

I am planning on coming...just slow at getting my tickets! See you there!

Trip Speight said...

Ladies, Don't forget about the dipping area! Great outlook on such an infrequent but meaningful event Kelsey. I almost bought another set of tickets! And you made the westside feel really guilty too. If only I had paid attention in Kiger's class a bit more. Even then I wouldn't have been so elequent. Can I wear my birthday suit? T

Jennifer said...

All I want to know is: Is it time yet?!?!?! You did a fabulous job with this blog post Kelsey!! Trip you can wear yours but I'll spare you wearing mine! Besides, I don't think you're ready for this jelly! haha

That's Mrs. Perkins to you!

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog Kelsey. I feel exactly like what you wrote. Can't wait to see everyone and get wrecked. YEEEEE HAAAAAA! Play sum Skeenard ByGod!