15 year class reunion

‘god has it been 15 years already?’ i remember thinking to myself when the postcard arrived in the mail.  ‘that can’t be right’ i said as i scanned the time and date info on the back.  i flipped the card back over and re-read the front.  ‘fifteen years?!?’ i said aloud.  ‘shit.’

admittedly, i immediately decided i wouldn’t go. i skipped my five year reunion because, well… wait a second – did we even have a five year? i guess i don’t recall. either way, i didn’t go. i did attend the ten, but found it unbearable. the night was pretty much a constant game of ‘who has the biggest wang’ when chatting about careers, marriage, cars, houses, bank accounts, and children. one dude even brought a smoking hot model looking gal as his “girlfriend”. and after about an hour, i’d had my fill and left.

so opting out of the 15 seemed an easy choice. easy that is, until i heard the following:

the fifteen year class reunion is when they start to get fun. most people have kids they are dying to get a night off from, they hate the jobs they bragged about at the ten year reunion, and a lot of them will likely be on their second marriage. realizing life didn’t really pan out the way they had hoped for just five years prior, everyone just wants to get out of the house for a fun night.

this had me intrigued, so i stated asking around. i know my parents have commented on how they really enjoyed the last two reunions they attended, and they frequently say they are looking forward to the next. being a sociologist, i’m always fascinated hearing about people’s lives and how they choose to live them, so that aspect had me interested as well. and even though i had to work 9-5 the day of in addition to fitting in a two hour bike/run workout, i decided to go. heck, i didn’t RSVP or nothing. side note: i rarely do as i never take a date, i drink nothing but water, and i rarely eat more than a pretzel or two – hardly worth paying the $15 attendance fee if you ask me.

work, bike, and run completed, i grabbed a quick shower, threw on the only clean jeans i had (which of course had holes in the knees), grabbed a banana and some gatorade, jumped in the car, and headed north. i have to say the memories i recalled on the 25 minute drive made going worth it alone. i didn’t mind high school, and actually had a lot of fun. i was also looking forward to seeing a few people i hadn’t seen in quite some time. i’ve heard a lot of people comment on how they don’t ever want to see anyone from high school and could care less about how they are doing. and to that i call bullshit – nobody hated high school that much or isn’t at least a bit interested in catching up with people they spent nine months out of the year with for four, eight, even twelve years of their adolescent lives. if you’re that person, please give it a rest. it may have worked for the first ten years after graduation, but it’s getting a bit old.

the night went great, and was filled with a lot of great conversations and laughs. i was amazed at the number i people i’d totally forgotten about, or names i had totally misplaced. some people looked totally different, while other looked exactly the same. best of all, instead of chatting about material things, people talked about life. what brings them joy, what they have found to be important. people shared stories of joy, others of sorrow. the time flew, i got my ass handed to me in foosball, and before i knew it, four hours had passed.

nearing midnight, i said a round of goodbyes, drove home, and fell asleep faster than i have in years. usually being in bed by nine o’clock nightly, nearing 1:00am was way past my bedtime. the following day, i thought about the people i had chatted to and where they have ended up. it’s crazy how life works out, how it’s influenced by the people we meet, the choices we make, and the totally random occurrences we have absolutely no control over. i also marveled at how time humbles us, and how it’s so good at healing old wounds. at one point during the evening, i found myself outside chatting with the smokers. granted i don’t smoke, but the cool evening breeze provided a much needed break from the stale, tavern air inside. that, and i have had some very good conversations with the smoker crowds in the past. as i stood there listening to the conversation, i found myself amazed at the group – the poor kid who got picked on way too much, the star football player, the gal that ran with the skids, the band nerd, the class president, and the overweight kid – all sharing stories and laughter over a smoke. people who refused to talk to or even look at each other just 15 years ago. it was fantastic.

so i guess i write this post to share my experience, and urge you to rethink not attending your 15, 20, or whatever year class reunion. like i commented to a good pal on my way up to mine: we aren’t the same people we were five or ten years ago. while some of our values remain lifelong, others change. feelings change. opinions change. what matters changes. how are we to know if we will or won’t like something or someone we didn’t in the past. i hated my ten year reunion, but decided to give this one a go anyways. and in the end, i enjoyed a great night of storytelling, laughter, lukewarm water, and few stale pretzels. i mean really – what more could a person ask for?

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