Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My 30 Year High School Reunion

I'm wondering how this could have happened... Going to my 30 year High School reunion when mentally, I'm still about 18.

For most of the summer I busied myself with preparations for the reunion. One would think this meant a crash diet, some laser work around the eyes or a few Botox shots. But, no! For me this meant sitting in front of my computer, getting reacquainted with some old classmates.

I really haven't met too many people who can claim that their high school experience was terrific. The teen aged years are fraught with insecurities - trying to find one's place in a group, a school, a community... the world. I was no different. Outwardly, I guess I did all the 'right things'. I kept reasonably good, but not stellar, grades. I was a cheerleader. I was the Photography editor of my yearbook. I kept out of trouble.

I transferred to Old Mill High School in December of 1976, having spent grades 1-8 at Maternity BVM grade school and the beginning of my Freshman year at Archbishop Ryan High School for Girls (Philadelphia). Public school was overwhelming for me. For the first time ever, I had to have clothes to wear to school. I never thought I would wish for a school uniform, but those first few weeks at Old Mill I cried for my solid blue jumper and Peter Pan collared shirts!! I missed my friends in Philadelphia terribly and was devastated when their letters stopped coming or when they arrived containing details of how life was going on there without me.

In Maryland, the neighborhood kids tortured me. I was a 'city slicker' (really.) Apparently, they also had some imaginary source of information about me before I arrived... my 'reputation' was assailed almost immediately. I was constantly ridiculed for my 'accent'. This, from a bunch of hicks who didn't wear socks with their shoes! (My Dad nearly died laughing when he saw Docksiders worn with no socks - never really understood why he found it amusing but he used it as evidence of being surrounded by bumpkins all the time!) But, time moved on. I made some nice friends, became active in school activities and just prayed for it all to end quickly.

I was so pleased when, over the course of the summer, I came to know my former classmates as some truly outstanding human beings. Turns out, they suffered some of the same indignities as I did. They felt the same sense of befuddlement and alienation. They turned out great. I guess I did too.

Once I accepted that I was not the 128 pound 17 year old cheerleader anymore, I began to really enjoy getting in touch with old friends. I had no judgement for my female friends who had put on weight or male friends who were losing their hair. I just loved them... really just adored all of them. I was really happy to be in their presence for those few hours on Oct 9th.

Pictured above is me and Chip. We have been friends for 30+ years. He has always been a source of fun, laughter and general mischief for me. We were on the yearbook staff together and generally ran in similar circles. We've kept in touch for all these years with quick visits squeezed in when we were both in the same area. His Mom, Kay, is still one of my most favorite people in the world. I loved watching him become a Dad with his incredible daughter, Grace. He's a keeper. He was one of the people I spent a good part of the summer working with on the reunion. He will be one of the people who shares all the happy times to come.

Here are a some photos and details from the reunion:

This is Laura, who was the driving force behind the reunion. I spent more time laughing with Laura than I have with any other person in years. In high school we ran in the same general crowd and were on the yearbook staff together. I didn't know her well then, but I adore her now. I miss talking/emailing with her everyday. From this point on, all trips to the East Coast will HAVE to include visits with Laura and her family. She's another keeper, can't imagine not having her in my life from here on in...!

This is Karen and Deb. Both have been my dear friends for 30+ years too. Karen and I were roommates in Annapolis for a number of years in the early 90's. We carried on like sisters for the longest time... we fought, we shared, we worked together. For most of the past 30 years though, we have been staunch allies and the best of friends. Deb has been a near constant in my life for 30+ years as well. We double-dated midshipmen together, attended each other at our weddings, celebrated the birth of our daughters together and shared just about all major life events. She is a trusted and life-long friend.

Here's Maddie with Karen and Deb. (Maddie came along to work the registration table)

Other highlights of the reunion:

Helen, me, Dana and Annette.

Helen worked on the reunion committee, too. We have been fortunate to have shared company with Helen twice here in California. She's a great gal and we hope to see her in the months to come. My dearest Dana, whose home I practically lived in for most of my high school years, has weathered some incredible adversities. 6 hours after arriving in Maryland I sought her out... I found her looking just beautiful and none the worse for wear after surviving a brain tumor 3 years ago. The tumor left her deaf in one ear and she has some memory issues. However, she recognized everyone at the reunion and I think she had a great time. Maddie, Josie and I visited her and her Mom, Miss Gloria, on the day after the reunion. It was great to be 'home' again! Annette has been married for 26 years to Carlos, who was such a pleasure to share time with. I learned that my Dad had worked with Carlos & Annette when he was in real estate many years ago. I found Annette to be the same fun-loving girl I knew so long ago.

Carole and Leigh

Yeah, I'm secure in saying that Carole turned out to be the class 'hottie'. I thought there would be a line of male classmates lining up to greet her and I wasn't too far off. She is a treasure. Leigh and I were cheerleaders together - she was very low key in HS, kind of like the quiet amongst the chaos... Look at how beautiful she has remained!

Cindy, Burt and Sandy.

It was the first time I had seen Cindy since leaving high school. She looked fabulous and glamorous. Burt was my cohort in mischief for a good part of our HS years. He is the person I hold personally responsible for our homeroom teacher, Ms. Green, hating my guts. He's a grandfather twice over, married for 28 years and still a troublemaker. My Maddie absolutely loved him... like Mother, like daughter. Sandy was on the reunion committee, in charge of press releases and promotion. I was thrilled to learn that Sandy and I share the bond of being adoptive parents. I'm hoping to meet her children and visit with Sandy when I return to the East Coast...

Cindy, Susan, Christine and Marilyn

Susan remains the ultimate cheerleader, like she was in HS. She still has boundless energy and enthusiasm for everyone and everything! She is the mother of 3 handsome and accomplished sons - a one-person booster section for each, I'm sure. Marilyn has her own business - successfully spreading joy in the form of Botox shots for a large clientele. She has 3 beautiful kids, a handsome husband and no doubt, a lot of joy in life.

I could go on and on about how successful, friendly and accomplished my former classmates are and how much they have contributed to their respective communities. Time, and a monkey named Josie climbing on my back are preventing me from doing that! I am happy to report however, that based on the suggestion of another Old Mill alum, we will all be getting together to celebrate our 50th birthdays in 2012. It's going to be a lot of fun and I am determined to not only attend but to actually have full conversations with everyone who attends....

No comments:

Post a Comment