Yes, yes, we are finally getting to the actual reunion part of my story. Keep your pants on.
When we left Michelle yesterday, she was going to go get a drink and calm her big self down.
I went into the bar and there were faces that looked somewhat familiar, but not necessarily friendly. Think Star Wars Cantina. (I can’t help it. Gotta throw a Star Wars reference in whenever I can.) I smile at those who actually make eye contact. One guy is really good-looking, but I can’t remember his name. And, remember, no name tags. Great.
I get my drink and I hear, “Michelle?” I turn around and there is a guy I’d know anywhere. We grew up together in elementary school. I didn’t need a name tag. I hug him and he introduces me to his wife. The three of us find out that we all live in Wildwood and that their daughter will be going to middle school with my two kids next year. His wife takes our picture, and we say we’ll see each other outside. Now, I walk out of the bar with confidence. I am passing those same faces that I saw when I entered, but now I’m not avoiding their eyes. I’m smiling and nodding like I’m Miss America or something.
When I get back outside, I find out that there are now name tags, plus a sign-in sheet. Another sigh of relief escapes me. The pen we have to use, though is definitely a fine-tip one. (I’m an office supply freak/geek. I know my pens.) This makes me laugh and as I mention to the women I saw when I first arrived, “Sure, we may need to use our hands and read them like Braille, but at least they are name tags!”
Another great elementary buddy comes and finds me, and we hug. ( I had thought before I left, “What if these people aren’t huggers? I’m a hugger. Oh gosh. Turns out, those I felt like hugging often hugged me first. Those I just kinda knew? No hugging necessary. Weird. It was like these were real, normal people or something.) I tell him that he was so sweet to me in high school because I rode the bus all the way through high school, but he would pick me up in his pickup truck once in awhile when he saw me standing alone at the bus stop. He threw his head back and laughed. “That big ol’ white pickup? Wow!” He later mentioned that to his wife who told me that that same pickup had broken down on her when they were dating.
Then I saw my friend from church and her friends and there were more hugs. Everyone’s got name tags on now, so I don’t have to use my not-so-great memory to remember who these people are. (And, these ladies don’t have their husbands there either, so I’m not regretting not dragging Tom along.) We start talking about the clothes we used to wear and how important those were to us. We each remembered what pair of Nikes we had. We thought that was hilarious! Twenty-five years go by, and I still remembered my dark blue Nikes with the light blue swoosh. We talked about Candies, Yo-Yos, and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. I was laughing so hard tears were practically shooting out of my eyes! If there had been a fire right then and there, and they made everyone go home, I would have thought it was the best night I’ve had in a long time. This is why people like to attend reunions. The laughing and the memories.
I headed over to what I called The Music Department Table. If you were in band, orchestra, or choir, you were over there. Again, hugs all around. One guy said to me, “You know. I haven’t been in St. Louis for years. And, when I came back, and decided to go to this thing, there were certain people I really wanted to see. You are one of those people.” Awwww. How cool is that? He introduces me to his wife, and I meet the other Music people’s wives. Awesome. (I just now realized I’m the only female there from the Music Dept. Didn’t even think of that until now.)
I move on into the bar area now and see my friends from earlier, and more people start to arrive. Lots of screaming “Hi!!!!!!!” and lots of “Quick! Who is that in the blue shirt?” right before that person comes up to talk. Not all the name tags are staying on, it seems.
One of my old friends tells me that she’s mad at me, and winks. I asked why and she said I stole the solo in “God Bless America” from her in high school. I said, “Seriously? I don’t even remember that.” Then I laughed and said, “I can’t believe you are even speaking to me after that!” I guess you can forgive pretty easily after 25 years.
I saw lots and lots of people that night.
- A best friend from elementary school that didn’t associate with me in high school, but was so excited to see me. She looks just like her mom, and talking to her brought back all the good memories and none of the bad.
- A girl that didn’t talk to me in high school and still didn’t talk to me that night. Okay, several girls. And guys. But, what was I going to catch up with them about anyway? I didn’t know anything about them 25 years ago. I thought it would bother me when they would look at my nametag and move on, but it didn’t. I did the same thing when I saw their nametags.
- Guys that were so popular and good-looking in high school that are still good-looking, but aren’t married, and wish they were. Or at least wished they had kids. And, I wasn’t deathly afraid to talk to them. Twenty-five years will do that to a person!
- Classmates that weren’t “popular” at all in high school, but were having the best time circulating and talking to anyone and everyone!
- People that I kind of knew in high school, but were so friendly and fun to be around at the reunion.
- And, finally, classmates I had honestly forgotten about, but was absolutely thrilled to see and catch up with.
It was truly an amazing evening. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “You haven’t changed at all! You are still so funny!” (I don’t remember being funny in high school. I thought that came later. Shows you what I know!) If you had asked me last year, or even last month for that matter, if I would be attending, I would have laughed out loud, and said, “No way!”
There are several classmates that I am sure I will see before the next reunion. Two of the guys are in a band together and several of us plan to go hear them play whenever we can. But, now, I can honestly say that I cannot wait for the next reunion. Which just goes to show you, “Never say Never.”