Travel/Real Estate Directory
WHAT I REALLY KNOW
About High School
By Anne Rodgers, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Some people faithfully attend school reunions. Others scoff
and wonder if it isn’t a bit crazy to fly halfway across the country
to see folks who, except for maybe three or four, are not acquaint-
ed with who you are now and certainly don’t care. So why go?
My high school experience is best summed up as awkward and
interminable. Though adulthood has shown me to be a clear-cut
extrovert, I was unable to access that quality amid the agony of
self-consciousness that drowned me in high school.
So—once a decade—reunions have become that rare opportu-
nity for a do-over. I can mingle with people I was once too shy to
speak to, be friendly, be the person I wanted to be in high school.
It’s a chance to spruce up outdated recollections steeped in
angst-filled teenage introspection and self-absorption. Rewriting
history this way has become
a big lure of reunions. But it
didn’t start out that way.
Because I have not lived
in my hometown since I left
for college, I went to my 10th
high school reunion out of
curiosity. I was depressed
and a bit horrified to find
many classmates still cling-
ing to their outdated cliques:
Cheerleaders were still with
cheerleaders. Same with the band kids and athletes. I went to my
20th out of perversity, I suppose, with low expectations—and was
delighted to discover my fellow grads had come to see that what
bound us together was much more important than those small
differences that separated us in high school. It was a fun night.
My recent 40th reunion included a tour of the old neighborhood
by my best friend from grade school. I was shocked to see that the
lawn space between his house and the next-door neighbor’s was
tiny, 4 to 5 feet. I remember flying kites from that spot and learning
to twirl a baton there, in what I’d recalled as a vast expanse. How
could all those bright memories fit into such a small space?
At our high school, where my friend and I were part of the third
graduating class, I teared up as we pulled into the parking lot.
“Just think, 40 years ago this was brand-new,” he said. And so
were we, I thought. We were embarking on complicated lives
we could in no way predict. In that moment, the passage of 40
years was an exceedingly difficult concept to absorb.
But those experiences are why I’m willing to make the long journey home. What a gift it is to come face-to-face with the tangible
reminders of youth, which rekindle those priceless memories.
; The author in high school,
1972, and today
LEFT: COURTESY AUTHOR; RIGHT: COURTESY KEN STEINHOFF/AUTHOR
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