Sunday, November 04, 2007

Twenty Years Gone

My 20-year high school reunion -- that phrase is still difficult for me to comprehend, even after having just gone home to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to meet up with some of my high school chums (and some folks that I might have spoken to for all of three minutes between my freshman and senior years). It's remarkable that two decades have gone by, and that I've gone from this strapping young fellow


to this older, slightly more rotund man


I think that I definitely won the award for the most number of times that people looked at my high school picture, then looked at me, then exclaimed, "Holy crap!" Saying that I had changed more than just about everyone else there (save one or two) is a mild understatement.

As I drove around my old hometown for a few hours before the reunion, I discovered that I wasn't the only one who had changed significantly in 20 years. Much of the area surrounding my hometown is no longer rural, but is instead full of strip malls and new businesses and warehouses. The old country church that I attended for many years isn't even really in the country anymore, sitting instead on what is now a busy highway and surrounded by farmland that is being developed into several-hundred-unit subdivisions. My high school is completely unrecognizable, having morphed from an asbestos cleaning (three cheers for 1970s construction!!) to a complete rebuild.

But more than slapping me in the face with the reality of how much things have changed (despite my best efforts over the years to deny it), attending this reunion in a way was very cathartic for me. I didn't attend my 10-year reunion, partly because I was living in Alabama at the time but mostly because I wasn't sure how much people that I hadn't really talked to in high school would want to talk to me that far after. It was so refreshing for me to go to this one, though, and it proved to me that everything that I had worried about with the previous reunion was utterly ridiculous. Seeing old friends gave me such an amazing feeling, and in some instances I actually started to develop a great new rapport with people that ran in different circles than me back then.

As one friend was saying, 20 years ago everyone was worrying about dates and cliques and popularity, and there was a certain degree of inequity in where people fell. Now, the playing field is level; everyone for the most part is married, has kids, and was or is in the working world -- and all the thoughts of a social pecking order have long since vanished.

Things went so well that we're thinking of going ahead and trying a 25-year gathering and not waiting another 10 years. Maybe folks will recognize that there is great worth in getting together more than we do, and strengthening the bonds that were always there but that we somehow managed to overlook.

10 comments:

Helen said...

Aah what a lovely smile! how lovely to meet up all these years later, doesn't time go fast!

glad it went well, it's funny with school chums the way people look so different but in an instance you know who they are.

Nice to catch up!
Take care,
Helen x.

rdl said...

Nice post! great smile!
What i found amazing connecting with old HS friends is how much the same as we were in HS we really are.

carrie said...

We made an interstate move right before my senior year in high school so I didn't have "old friends" at the new school. I lost touch with everyone rather quickly.

I enjoyed reading your post about your reunion. I hope you all go for the 25th and keep in touch.

ipanema said...

i gather you had a lovely time with your HS mates.

i particularly like your concluding statement. yes, the bond is and always be there. it will never be lost. it's just that people change.

i'm having my silver HS reunion next year. i hope to attend.

thanks for sharing this. :)

Lone Grasshopper said...

My hometown is still as rural as ever because a Walmart opened up in the next town over, sucking all the new development to that town. Which is a good thing. I hope to move back someday...

Dad said...

You'll always be that "strapping young fellow" in my eyes! I'm so glad you got a chance to go back to your reunion.

When I went to my fortieth (gad!) a few years back, we had people who refused to come to the reunion. "I never talked to them in high school, so why should I talk to them now!" Get a life, folks! That's forty years ago!

Now, people are not sure we will ever have another reunion! What a waste! I'm glad you're going to try for a No. 25. Why wait for ten years to pass and lose touch with those great "kids" from high school! I know of a few people who get together every year during June - just for a dinner and to catch up with the past year.

I can't say I "miss" high school, but I do miss the friendships from that time in my life. Most of the "missing" is my fault, really, for not keeping up with those people. But life gets busy and you move on...

Well, heck, I'm blubbering again... I'm glad you got to return for the reunion - and I wish you many many more...

Dad said...

Oh, one other thing... (as usual)

When you are planning for that next reunion, here's an idea to consider. When we had our 40th reunion, we realized that there were some members of our class who had not fared as well as others in the forty-year interval. When we set a price for the reunion (dinner, beer bash, etc.), we added a few bucks to the cost. With that extra money, the committee provided transportation (or whatever was needed) for those individuals who would not have come otherwise.

To see the smiles on their faces, made it all worthwhile. Remember, we're all in this together!

rdl said...

You've been tagged.

Kansas Bob said...

I loved that you showed both pictures Dave.. one picture shows a much wiser man indeed. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us.

karen said...

Goes fast, doesn't it? Glad you went...I missed my 30th. Gee...that sounds...old....