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20 years since SJS

So my 20th high school reunion was this weekend.

There was a party scheduled for Saturday, but it conflicted with my friend Jim's Halloween/Birthday Party, and I just didn't see how it was possible to do both. So I just went to the Friday night tailgate party, instead.

The tailgate party was right before our big football game at Rice Stadium. At first, I didn't think Graham would be able to make any of it, since he djs on Friday nights, and he generally leaves around seven to get to the bar in time to set up. But, the tailgate party started at five, and the game started at seven, so Graham could go.

We had a mini discussion about whether or not I wanted him to go. On the one hand, I'm ridiculously proud of him and want to show him off. On the other, I can't imagine subjecting some poor soul to something like this, much less someone I love so much.

This was part of the discussion:
"I'll go!"
"But you hate hoity toity things!"
"It's a tailgate party! How hoity toity could it get?"
"This is St. John's / Kinkaid. There will be brie!"

In the end, he came and stood around the coolers and cookies and hummus (no, brie at our party, but the first graders one car over had a spread that cost well into the four digits) and vehicles for about 20 minutes while I looked at maybe 40 or so of my classmates with a mix of awe that absolutely no one has changed and shock that there are so very many kids spawned.

It's so weird to talk to someone that you haven't seen in 20 years as if nothing had happened in the intervening time. It's strange to look at someone and know exactly who they are even though you haven't laid eyes on them in two decades. A lot of us live in Houston, but we never see each other. There were more wrinkles and gray hairs than any other signs of aging. Everyone looked fit and pretty happy, though I suppose that people always bring their best selves to these things.

The weirdest part was that I didn't have to be reminded of who someone was at all. Everyone was so familiar, even though I hadn't seen most of them in decades. Doctors, lawyers, lots of teachers, people in technology. Lots of stay at home moms who are thinking of reentering the workforce, because their kids are getting old enough to go to kindergarten. I'm not the only childless one, and there were a few who are pregnant or just had kids or whose wives are pregnant.

Ours was a really small class. I think there were 104 of us who graduated, and we were pretty close. There were certainly popular people and nerdy people and jocks and artists and all, but every one knew each other fairly well. And even if you weren't the closest of friends, you certainly had a general idea of everyone else in your class. We probably each had a class with every other person in our grade. We probably each had some sort of memory of the others. I wouldn't say that it was always happiness and joy, because high school never is that. But it was comfortable--at least for me--and certainly by now any angers or hurts or grudges must have dissipated over the intervening 20 years.

I wasn't really anything in high school, though someone told me that they remembered me as being very articulate. There are worse ways to be remembered. I had friends, but none were particularly close. I was liked, but I wasn't necessarily beloved. I didn't hate high school, but I wasn't unhappy to move on to my life afterwards. I have some fond memories, but it wasn't the end all and be all of my life.

Some people traveled from a long distance to come to this event. I don't think I would have done it had I lived elsewhere. In fact, I went to the Buffy party in Vegas in 2001 instead of going to the ten year reunion. I did go to 15, five years ago. But I wasn't sorry to go to this.

I went to the game with a hunk of the group after the tailgate party wrapped up, and I watched our team lose to Kinkaid. While it didn't seem that my classmates had changed at all, the high school kids looked so very young, especially the cheerleaders. I couldn't decide if their apparent youth was because we were so removed from that now or because we keep on being told by television that 23 years olds are 18.

The game itself was familiar, though. Every grade shows up to this event, and it's the only thing that the whole school, from pre-kindergartners to seniors do together. Everyone's parents and sometimes grandparents are there, all of the teachers, and whichever alumni that happen to be doing a reunion that weekend. In front of our cluster was a group of middle school girls who were playing on their iphones. I'm certain that middle school girls never paid much attention to the game (unless there was a boy who they crushed on playing), but this was a new focus.

Three of my classmates and I went back to the tailgate to help clean up. The one friend I had kept up with in all these years since high school had organized everything, and I wanted to make sure she didn't have too much work to do in the cleanup. We stood around her car with a bottle of wine and gossiped and chatted and confessed that none of us had ever been to the rather infamous house parties that one of our classmates threw when his parents were out of town. There was a kinship in that.

I exchanged cards with one of my Houston based classmates who is moving to my neighborhood in a few weeks. And maybe we will reconnect in more normal circumstances. I always liked her, and the hug she gave me when she saw me was truly genuine. I am curious as to what happened at the party on Saturday, and whether people came that didn't go to the tailgate party. I suspect that good times were had, and then everyone went back to their regular lives.

After I got out of there, I went to Prohibition to hear Graham spin, and then I went home. The next day, we got ready for Jim's party, and we had a fantastic time with a good hunk of our more accessible, everyday friends.

In some ways, I know absolutely nothing about these people. 20 years is a very long time for interesting, life-changing things to happen that I have no idea about. I know that I've certainly changed dramatically since high school. But in others, I know more about them than their spouses. It's a weird thing to have this shared four year history and then to go off and do your own thing and then reconnect.


( 3 comments — Say something )
Oct. 31st, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
I went to my 25th last year and could have written almost exactly this essay afterwards.
Nov. 1st, 2011 07:36 am (UTC)
I went to my 20th and I was shocked at the number of divorces (some of my classmates had been divorced multiple times). I was also surprised by how different everyone looked; how much weight folks had gained and how ordinary their lives appeared. In high school, I thought it was a pretty remarkable group of kids, yet at the 20th reunion, very few had made major accomplishments. I realize that I'm a generation ahead of you, and the changing times might account for some of this. But I've never been back to another one.
Miss Maine
Nov. 1st, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
I went to the 20th and the 30th. I did NOT attend the 40th. Maybe I'll go to the 45th or 50th...who knows? We were such a small class back then (53, I think) and have lost a good 20-25% so far and another 15% or so have disappeared off the planet.

I did enjoy the two I went to.....but....I really don't miss anybody. The couple of people I was close to...I live with one and the other died in her early 20's.
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