There was a moment that stood out during my 10-year high school reunion last weekend. It happened after people had some food and a few drinks, and the banquet hall was overwhelmed with loud chatter and pop-fueled ‘90s music. I was standing next to a friend and said the first thing that came to mind.
“Man, this whole night is surreal,” I said.
Yes, I went to my Modesto High Class of 2000 reunion last weekend at the Elk’s Lodge in Modesto with some expectations, with the main one being this: I didn’t want to regret going. At the same time, I didn’t go in seeking revenge on former classmates, like the ones who used to tease about my stutter. I knew that would’ve been pointless. I wanted to have a fun time, and I think I accomplished that.
Because of Facebook, I had a chance to view an unofficial guest list. There were plenty of names that caught my eye, but that wasn’t enough. I also wanted to be surprised by the last-minute arrivals. I got there early enough to watch the old faces walk through the door. Many knew exactly who I was and some had no clue. And there were some people who I didn’t speak to during high school but knew who I was, alluding to the fact that I had some sort of impact during those four years.
We bounced stories around (some of them were quite embarrassing), we danced (to Britney Spears and Sisqo, unfortunately), we laughed (oh yeah, there was enough laughter to hurt people’s faces) and we danced again (because we’re still young enough to do that, right?).
This wasn’t an opportunity to strike revenge on anyone. At least I didn’t see any of that on this night. But like many high schools across the U.S., there were cliques. That might be because we were a fairly large graduating class of around 500, so it’s nearly impossible to know the entire guest list.
Even so, one person stood out for me. She tapped me on the shoulder and went straight into conversation mode, electing not to give me a hello-hug or anything. “Out of all the people who are still in newspapers,” said the tall, slender former classmate who once worked in public relations, “I’m glad you’re still in it.” Our friendship goes back to our junior high days, when we shared the basketball courts with each other. She then became a star girls basketball player for Modesto High, and we didn’t speak to each other much during this time — though there was no evidence of a falling out, believe me.
After high school, we occasionally kept track of each other via MySpace. But that was it, and then came last weekend. We talked for at least 30 minutes and I remember thinking that she was my favorite person to talk to. She brought up my speech impediment and said that she knew how difficult it was for me to get through high school, where social interaction is vital. But she also talked about her struggles of being a white person at a school with many minorities and trying to find an identity.
“High school was hard for all of us,” she said.
I think one of the reasons that made the reunion so surreal is the fact that we knew a lot of us wouldn’t see each other again after this night. It’s a truth that many of us will have to accept. And maybe it’s a truth that prevented some of our classmates of going in the first place, seeing that they might not have wanted to hear artificial conversations about staying in touch after the reunion.
But that’s not the point of a high school reunion.
Honestly, I really don’t know the point of a high school reunion. But when I left, I remember thinking that I was so glad that I attended.
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