Well, darlings, I have returned home from a week in Hometown, and most of the week was devoted to the reuniting with the class of 1992. As I wrote in anticipation of the event, part of my motivation for going was because I wanted an opportunity to “judge how all of us have turned out – I want to judge myself in relation to these people who come from where I come from, and I want to judge us all in relation to where I would hope that we would be.” I didn’t actually mean that in a dicky way. I meant it in a more outcomes-assessment sort of a way – like, high school is the last time when you really are part of a community that is not at all self-selected. This was especially true at my gigantic high school. My graduating class had about 700 people in it. There were people at this reunion whom I met for the first time, some of whom I’d swear I’d never seen before in my life. But we all came from the same place, and the lives that we have now grew out of those formative years. And it was interesting to see what had become of all of us.
So first, it’s worth noting that our reunion involved different events over three days, and different people went to different ones. There was a happy hour, a bar get-together, a tour of the high school, an actual ticketed event with food, and then finally a family picnic on Sunday. I made the executive decision that I needed to choose either the happy hour (Friday) or the bar thing (also Friday), because while I am a girl who enjoys an alcoholic beverage, I am no longer a girl who can drink from 5 pm until the wee hours without serious repercussions. And I certainly couldn’t have done that and then gone out the following night. I skipped the tour of the high school because, dude, who cares what it looks like now on the inside? I’ve got no nostalgia for the locker that I never used after the first semester of my freshman year (I had a desk in the newspaper office where I kept all my stuff), nor for the cafeteria (I ate lunch in the newspaper office), nor for the old gym that smelled like pee, or the new gym that smelled like a gym. And apparently they’ve remodeled, and so the choir room and the “try-out theater” are no more. So no tour for me. I also didn’t go to the family picnic because a) I don’t have a family, other than my parents, and b) I was super-hung-over from the Saturday night event, and c) I went with my parents to my cousin’s high school graduation party.
Let me pause to note that I entirely appreciate my classmates who cared enough about this to spend the time organizing and planning. I never would do that (a) and also they did an amazing job (b). From what I’ve heard about reunions that have happened over the past three or so years from our high school, ours was seriously the best, both in terms of fun and in terms of the cost. (Tickets for the Saturday night event were only 40 bucks a person, and you got three cocktails and very nice food, although I’ll note I didn’t eat anywhere near enough very nice food because I’m an asshole and instead I spent the night drinking and running around like a fool. Note to self: 4 pieces of surprisingly delicious sushi and two crostini appetizer thingies are nowhere near enough food for like 7 hours of nonstop drinking, for obviously I drank more than the three drinks included in the ticket.) And I also applaud them for organizing the happy hour, bar night, and ticketed event to take place at businesses owned by our classmates. Yay that we gave them our business (and they must have made a million dollars given the number of people who showed up and the amount of drinking that occurred) and yay that it kept the prices down for the bunch of lushes that we apparently are.
But so, since I wanted to judge, what is my judgment? Well, overall, I’ve got to say that the best thing about the weekend was realizing that for the most part, we’ve all made really, really excellent lives for ourselves. Now, obviously, people whose lives are super-shitty probably just didn’t show up. But of those who did show up, we all seem really settled. Happy. Good. A lot of people in my class work for non-profits, and a lot are lawyers, and there are a fair number of doctors and PhDs, but there are also a lot of stay-at-home moms and guys who work at non-white-collar jobs. But all of them, really, seem good. And it was nice to hear about people’s lives and nice to see people. I probably don’t need to see them again, for the most part, for another ten years, but it was good to check in, and I think it will be good to check in after another ten.
So, with all of that being said, what are the highlights?
- Well, my HS BFF got into town on Thursday night, and we went to dinner, and that was great. Obviously we talk frequently and I didn’t really need to reunite with her, but it was great to see her.
- That night, I then went over to A’s house, and A, who graduated the year after me, is going through a pretty shitty time because she just split with her live-in boyfriend of five years. Lots of bonding.
- Friday I went to lunch with HS BFF and another friend with whom we graduated. I should probably note that both of their real life names are “Heather.” Yes, the movieHeathers was very important to me in high school. At any rate, other friend is seriously 9 months pregnant and she looks fabulous and is fabulous, as she always was. It was very cool to get to see her outside of the reunion events so we actually could really talk and catch up.
- Friday afternoon A and HS BFF and I went shopping.
- Friday evening HS BFF’s boyfriend (whom I’d not met before this, although they’ve been together for nearly two years and now live together) arrived in town and we went to dinner at Lola. OH. MY. GOD. It was so, so good. For my starter, I had the beef-cheek pirogi, which was sublime, for my entree I had the lamb heart, which was unbelievable, and for dessert we chose two, and shared, and the one that I chose, the strawberry panacotta, which was truly, truly delightful. (The other dessert, the name of which I forget, tasted like a nestle crunch bar and frankly was underwhelming, as if I wanted a nestle crunch bar I could buy one for a dollar, and not spend 12 bucks on that lame dessert.) I will say that the big surprise of the dinner was that HS BFF’s hangar steak was truly wonderful, as was the salsa verde that went with it, and I hadn’t necessarily expected that it would be exceptional (because you’d figure that they could phone it in on that because it’s the entree choice of unadventurous eaters), and her boyfriend’s walleye was delightful, especially because I only have ever eaten walleye that my grandmother cooked that my grandfather or uncles caught. Walleye = the native fish of my hometown.
- After dinner Friday, I’d insisted that we go get A. and make her go out (as she’d not been out since the whole splitting up thing), so HS BFF and her boyfriend dropped me off at her house and I accompanied her to the “bar night” thing of the reunion, my first official reunion event. The good news was that I saw people I knew the moment I walked in. The bad news is that it was a zoo – super-crazy packed, filled with meathead jocks whom I thought sucked then and still suck now, and so loud that all you could really do was some sort of “AAARGHAAA!” shout and hug people. Even with that being the case, I did see some awesome people I’d not seen in 20 years, including Greek Goddess, who is fabulous and works for NASA, and this guy whom everybody called “Beetle” then, who I swear to god the last time I saw him was wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt and smoking a joint, who is now a businessman or something. The night sucked for A., who saw a bunch of meathead jock friends of her ex (who himself was a meathead jock in high school) and she had to tell them all that they were broken up. The good news is that now she’s gone through that and that I was there for support. The bad news is that they are a bunch of asshole alcoholics who made her have a shitty night. Anyway, the only other thing of note was that I saw the guy I’d had a crush on throughout high school (and I’ve kind of been friends with him since…. I went to his wedding when I was 24 and stuff, but we don’t really keep in touch) and the first thing he did (when I interrupted him having a jello shot) was to hug me and say he missed me, and the second thing he said was to ask if I had a time machine because I look like I did in high school. I also might have told him and his wife that they should look me up when they are in my neck of the woods to see his sister and mom, and I might now be Fb friends with his wife (as he apparently doesn’t really know how to use a computer). All in all, while I’m really glad that this night was not the only reunion night, it was positive. The only other news from that night was that a girl I went to high school with who was totally “progressive” and had pink hair ended up marrying a nerd from our class (with whom I had AP classes) and hilariously she had not even realized that they’d graduated with each other when they met in their late-20s. Finally, I really did enjoy answering the “Hey, are you married? Do you have kids?” questions with, “No, I’ve got a PhD and a book.” It’s a testament to the awesomeness of my classmates that they actually were interested after that, and that they didn’t think I was a total jerk.
- Saturday night was the ticketed thing, and it was much more awesome as all the meatheads were not in attendance. I talked to people whom I’d never spoken with in high school, and I talked to people like this guy who’d lived down the street from me in high school who shares my birthday and with whom I made a mock apple pie in chemistry, who is happily partnered (they’d be married if it were legal) and who has adopted a totally gorgeous kid, and I caught up with people with whom I was only slightly friends back then. It was so, so good.
My final verdict is this. I know a lot of people who avoid reunions, and I get why they do. But I really like the people that I graduated from high school with, more now than I actually liked them when we were in high school together. For me, it was an entirely positive experience. It’s not that any of our lives are changed by having seen one another – they aren’t – but our lives are richer for having known one another and having come from the same place, and it’s good to check in to remember that.