Friday, September 21, 2012

High School Reunions

Watching GROSSE POINTE BLANK on TV made me think back on my 25-year high school reunion this past June.  This movie, about a guy returning to his hometown for his 10-year high school reunion (among other things), came out the same year as my 10-year, so when I see it, I think of high school reunions.

I had a great time at my 10-year reunion.  I was on the reunion organizing committee, and that allowed me to have a lot of involvement in the planning.  I also got to spend a lot of time with some old friends that I hadn't seen in a really long time.  Even though I was an introvert in high school and did not go to parties and things like that, I was accepted by the popular crowd because we had many of the same classes.  My high school class, the Class of '87 from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, MD, was really special, and may be unusual as high school classes go.  We were a smart, close bunch of kids, from many different backgrounds, but there is this connection that has existed with us that draws us together in a way that is hard to explain.  I think we are the only class that had teachers and the entire school administration attend the 10-year reunion, and they may have had a better time than us, the students.  Anyway, at the 10-year, I was able to rekindle many of these relationships.  The only thing I didn't do was dance, since I just don't.  I think the only negative was that my high school crush, Allison, was married (I was still a single guy; didn't meet my wife until a few years later).

I went to my 20-year reunion and did not have a very good time.  Despite being three years removed from the death of my wife, and feeling good about myself, I had attended with the hope of having a good time and reconnecting with many old friends.  Aside from a few close friends, most hadn't seen me since the 10-year reunion.  Several knew about my wife, and that seemed to cast me in a different light, I guess.  I knew it was going to be a difficult night when I first walked in, went to the registration table, and watched several classmates immediately turn and walk away, whispering to each other as they glanced my way, and before I could get out a, "Hi, you haven't changed a bit!"  I spent the evening with many avoiding me completely, and, as I learned later, not talking to me because they didn't know what to say to me, and the whole evening was just an awkward mess.  I went home early in a funk.

As my 25-year reunion approached, several friends contacted me and asked if I was coming.  I made it clear that I really didn't want to after the experience I had at the 20-year.  However they tried to convince me that it wouldn't be that way this time, that classmates were more mature and really wanted to see me.  I still wasn't convinced, but one friend talked me into attending the Happy Hour on the Friday before the reunion and, if I had a good time, I could purchase a ticket for the reunion then.  I reluctantly agreed.  And, to my surprise, I had a great time.  Even Allison was there, newly divorced, but, unfortunately for me, in a new relationship.  But it was great catching up with everyone.  The Happy Hour was more of an alumni gathering, and included many from different classes, so that made it even more fun.  Enough years had gone by that no one even asked me how I was doing, with all of the undertones that accompanied it, which was a question I was asked too often by those that did talk to me at the 20-year.  At the end of the evening, I was convinced that the reunion would be fun, and I purchased a ticket to attend the next evening.

And I had a decent time.  Unfortunately, there were several people, not at the Happy Hour, that still obviously didn't know how to talk to me, and didn't, and even avoided me, but I wasn't going to allow that to bother me.  I talked to the people I wanted to talk to, and enjoyed it. I only wish Allison was still available. :-)

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