Although I am loathe to admit this, my 35th high school reunion is rapidly approaching. Did you catch that number? My THIRTY-FIFTH. I know that’s hard for most of you to believe, given my youthful appearance (HEY! No snickering! This is my blog and I can say what I want to) and my great zest for living (smirk. Okay, my great zest for living on most days.) Alas, ‘tis true. Thirty five years ago, I donned a white graduation robe and secured a red mortar board to my hair with bobby pins and readied myself to walk across that stage to receive my high school diploma, praying silently all the way, don’t let me fall down, don’t let me fall down, don’t let me fall down. (I stayed upright. Yay.)
And now, here I sit, thirty-five years and a whole lifetime later, wondering how the years have treated my fellow graduates. I wonder if I will recognize any of them, and if they, in turn, will recognize me. That’s what name tags are for, right? Right. I wonder who the years have treated kindly and who has had the stuffing kicked out of them by the vagaries of life. Who has gone bald, kept their hair, gained weight, lost weight, aged well, stayed the same… I wonder. Thirty-five years is a long time by anyone’s calculation.
Here’s the thing I wonder about most of all. I believe it’s a fair assumption that we’ve all left behind the masks we wore then. You know the ones. The masks that identified us by the things we did or the groups we belonged to (or didn’t belong to.) There was the cheerleader mask, the football-player mask, the cowboy-mask (yes we had that one – I grew up in Texas, remember?), the doper-mask (which was child’s play compared to the doper-masks worn by high school kids today), the brainiac mask, etc., etc. Which is not to say that we haven’t adopted new masks all these years later, but that’s another blog for another time.
What I wonder is whether we will all fall into those old roles when we gather in the same room together again. I’d like to believe that we no longer feel the need to be anyone or anything other than ourselves; that we aren’t defined by what we do or whom we associate with. I’m excited to find out who all these people became; these people who were such a crucial part of my history. I’m captured by the thought that time surely must have radically changed the dynamics of this group. None of us really knew who we were back then. Let’s face it—it’s the rare person who knows anything about themselves at eighteen. Not so at fifty-plus. By now, most of us have surely learned a thing or two; and I’m willing to bet that we are a fascinating bunch.
A fascinating bunch who at one time swore we could never trust anyone over the age of thirty. And now look at us. Who knew?