Sunday, January 30, 2011

All those years ago...

My high school class is gearing up for its 30th reunion. First, let me say that hardly seems possible, as I refuse to admit I am the matronly lady my age implies. But the advent of this reunion day sort of cements that the number on my driver's license is, in fact, accurate.

Second, though, it's also made me realize something else: I should have gotten to know these people better 30 years ago.

High school was a funny time for me, and I'm finding out I wasn't alone in not having any idea which "group" I belonged to. At the time, I was beginning to realize that perhaps I could end up forging a career as a writer, so I hung around a lot of teachers who helped mold my work. I was newspaper editor and started the school's first creative-writing book, and I spent a lot of time writing and editing, alone, in the school's j-lab.

I had a couple of steady boyfriends and a handful of close friends, and I knew a lot of people, but not well enough to hang out with them. In reality, I wasn't great at letting people in, so looking back, I missed out on a lot.

But now, thanks to Facebook, I'm realizing what an amazing group of people came out of Dowling High School's Class of '81 -- and I'm not basing that on the illustrious careers some of them have aspired to and achieved. I'm talking about the committed social workers and teachers, the health-care professionals and stay-at-home moms. I'm talking about people raising children with special needs, surviving cancer, and dealing with the devastating illnesses of parents and siblings ... the people who manage to get out of bed every morning knowing that the world may very well be preparing to throw them yet another pile of something they never asked for.

And here's something funny: It's not just the beautiful girls who are beautiful now. Age truly is the great equalizer, and in our case, it's equalized everyone positively. What a great-looking group of people we have turned out to be -- and shame on us back then for perhaps not appreciating Cathy's and Steve's beautiful eyes or Tom's and Johnne's sweet smiles.

The best thing about preparing for this reunion, then, is the knowledge that even though we're not getting any younger, it's not too late to pick up where we left off -- or never started at all. And best of all, something tells me we're not going to have to worry one bit about being judged according to whether our blouses match our knee socks.

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