Monday, August 20, 2012

In Case I Don't See You for Another Ten Years...

My senior picture, alongside a snap from our 20-year reunion.
Senior pic by Parson's Photography, reunion snap by young Azalea Solari.
High school reunions are—in my opinion—the key to proving to the misfits of the world that who you are in high school does not define who you are for life.

My twentieth reunion gathered a decent percentage of our 24-person class, along with spouses, significant others, and families. We gathered at a classmate’s family home—the location of many high school parties—for swimming, watercraft activities, potluck and barbecue.

In my usual fashion, I was hours late due to parenting distractions and saw a few people for only a moment as they were leaving. I hung out on the deck with Mr. Wright, wishing I hadn’t been so terrified of my own cellulite I’d failed to wear a swimsuit. The lake was lovely and warm as we kicked off our shoes and walked at the water’s edge.

Dinner for the adults followed, and our significant others were treated to stories from school. Assuming the statute of limitations had run on our high school misdemeanors, the tales of sneaking out, drinking in the student parking lot, skipping school and weekend parties flowed freely.

I must say, I was shocked to learn who cheated on the senior Spanish final. ¡IncreĆ­ble!

There were head-shaking moments, like when we talked about the sixth-grade teacher who molested girls in our class and lost his teaching credentials years later, after more victims, but was never criminally charged and remains engaged in the community.

We relived class pranks, memorable school assignments, sports highlights and more. That night, high school wasn’t the scary, lonely place I remembered. It was, instead, a vibrant reminder that I am who I am today because of my past—and parts of it weren’t quite the train wreck I’d assumed they were.

Nobody talked about how weird I was back then; how I always had my nose in a book, how I wrote truly terrible poetry, how I always wore the wrong thing, how I adopted a devil-may-care attitude to hide how insecure I was. No one remembered how skinny and gawky I was—even though we all remembered spiral perms and “mall bangs,” with much embarrassment.

Stories were shared, and I was part of them (except senior English, because Mr. McClure sent me out of class for the year, told me to write a book, and check in with him before graduation). Girls I admired back then told me they envied how I was never afraid to “do my own thing” in high school. If only they knew how terrified I was, how “my own thing” was a feeble attempt at not caring that I didn’t fit in… Maybe we weren’t so different back then, after all.

The truly miraculous part, of course, is how none of it really mattered—and, at the same time, mattered so much. I was a writer in high school, and today I’m a published, best-selling author (okay, so my book topped out at number two on a genre list on Amazon, but it still counts). Sometimes, deep down, I still feel like that awkward, skinny girl who couldn’t dress right and for the life of her couldn’t figure out what to do with makeup. Now, I can take comfort in the fact that no one probably even notices.

To the class of 1992:

Thank you for remembering me, and for reminding me.

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  1. 20 years has certainly improved your looks! See you and Mr. Wright in Orlando?

  2. Yes, Joe! we will be in Orlando! Can't wait to see you and your lovely bride!!!

  3. So, did you write a book and turn in to your English teacher?

  4. So, did you write a book and turn in to your English teacher?


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