My 20 year high school reunion is this fall. I realize this only happens to super old people, so clearly I’m experiencing an aggressive episode of Early Onset 20 Year High School Reunion. It’s really sad when this develops in someone still so young, right?
I was on the planning committee for the 10 year reunion. This was before Facebook, so I have PTSD from searching the phone book and having awkward telephone conversations with people who were less enthusiastic about reconnecting with old classmates than I was.
Yes, this is she.
Hey!! This is Liz Tolar! Well, it’s Liz Newlin, now. Actually, I introduce myself as Elizabeth now, but you can totally still call me Liz.
You remember, me, right? I spent the night at your house at least twice in seventh grade… We pierced Julie’s* ears with your brother’s diabetic needles!
Sure. What’s this regarding?
Oh. Well, I’m on the 10 year reunion planning committee and I was just calling to get your mailing address so we could send you an invite to the reunion. It’s going to be great! We’re having it at Rustler’s Rooste, because we thought it sort of went with the westerny theme of having a mustang as our mascot-
OK, are you ready for my address?
Oh… yeah, go ahead. Do you think you’ll come?
I’m not sure. I’m an attorney in Baltimore now, and I have lots going on. But it’s fine if you want to send me the invite.
So I’ve opted to be merely an attendant of the 20 year. Despite my unofficial status, I remain ardently enthusiastic about the event. I know what you’re going to say:
Uh, Liz. Reunions are lame. First of all, we have Facebook, now, so we don’t have to wait a decade to figure out if our 10th grade crush is still hot. Also, we keep in touch with anyone who’s important to us. We don’t need a random expensive party to hang out with our friends.
I get it. Reunions are not everyone’s thing. My sister and brother could not roll their eyes harder at the suggestion of attending any sort of a reunion associated with high school. I’m not trying to talk you out of your disinterest.
For me, though, reunions are not about catching up with my friends. I agree, I talk to them all online all the time now. Even if they live far away I’ve probably seen the video of them getting engaged and possibly an Instagram photo from the water birth of their first child in their backyard. If they’re local, we got pedicures last week and discussed school districts and why we haven’t murdered our husbands yet. I don’t need a reunion to keep up with the people who are important to me.
To me, reunions are like solving a riddle.
You have a favorite flower, right? Or even just a favorite plant? Let’s assume you’re not a sociopath and you do. Have you ever looked up what the seed of that flower or plant looks like? I just Googled a rose seed and a bird of paradise seed. The rose seeds are tiny, brown, and jagged. They could be mistaken for a pebble. The seed of a bird of paradise is black and round with an orange fuzzy hat on one end. They’re super cute and quirky.
Unless you’re a botanist or just a total know-it-all, if given a bucket of seeds of different types of flowers, you’d have no way to distinguish which seed would become which flower. They don’t look anything like they will eventually. You could guess, and maybe you’d get a few right (I feel like that bird of paradise seed has a little bit in common with it’s quirky eventual form), but for the most part, they don’t resemble what they will become in any way. The things we love about the flower, the vibrant colors, the texture of the petals, the large blossom with contrasting center, the intoxicating scent, etc, aren’t present at all in the original stages.
The people I went to high school (and elementary and Jr high) with are really the only group of people beyond my immediate family that I’ve gotten to see as seeds. I met them as a tiny, roundish, mostly neutral colored and unscented, object. By the time we got to high school, each was beginning to sprout and develop individual characteristics (some faster than others), but most were still fragile and careful to protect what was growing inside.
Now, 20 years later, we are an insane field of wildly different plants and flowers. The blooms are big and beautiful and fascinating (and some are batshit crazy). I love marveling at my guesses and judgements about what the seeds and sprouts I knew back then would turn out to be, and how generally wrong I was. Some of the sprouts that were so small and quiet back then turned into far more creative and brilliant flowers than I ever could have guessed. Some turned into a totally different flower than I would have predicted. Some of the plants I’ve never even heard of.
I guess the point is, I was emotionally invested in this group of seeds, so now I want to know what they all turned out like. And I want to see the field in person, not just perfectly staged online (although I have to admit some of my social media addiction is also fueled by this investment). I want to talk to the flowers and find out how their lives went and what their stories are. I want to remember sitting behind them in Spanish and thinking they were kind of a dick, but now hearing about how they are a pharmacist with two daughters they couldn’t love more.
Additionally, there is no more fertile soil for drama, gossip, awkwardness, inappropriate behavior, and drunken shenanigans than a high school reunion. And those are some of my favorite things. Hope to see you there!
*Names and personal details have been changed to protect the unenthusiastic.