SO last night was my 25th high school reunion. I moved to a new school my junior year of high school, and so spent my last two years in my own special high school hell. New girl, new school, new town...not feeling real committed because it's only two years...you can imagine. I know, I know, high school is hell for almost everyone, and really, it could have been a lot worse, but let's just say there aren't too many 'glory days' to relive. However, in those two years, I met my husband and some of the greatest friends I've ever had in my life. I also had the greatest teacher of my life, Mrs. Hines, who is STILL at Cary High School. So why go to the reunion, you might ask? (Same thing I asked myself repeatedly this week...) But the answer was clear--to see some really special people that I haven't laid eyes on in a decade or more, AND to see people I only see at reunions.
I met two of my dearest friends in the parking lot, and we headed for the building together (leaving my poor husband behind to park the car in 100 degree weather). As we approached the glass doors, I said, "We're in the wrong place. Look at all these old people." And for a minute, I GENUINELY thought we were in the wrong place. These people were WAY older than us. WAY older. They were responsible adults with jobs and kids and oops--that's me, too. How and when did that happen? When you reunite with old friends, for a short time, you are that young person again, you go back to that place, and like some freaky wrinkle in quantum physics, you are simultaneously that young person from your past who looks at your current self and says, "What the hell?"
So all night, I was this curious combination of that old high school girl (who hoped none of our parents would find out we were there DRINKING together) who confessed crushes and admirations and remembered things I hadn't thought about in years (like the time my friend rolled her own head up in her car window, and when that same friend and I were late for school because we hit a bird, and we were so torn up about it, we just couldn't go into the school building, and which boys were perverts and self-absorbed jerks and which guys would be worth knowing for a long, long time). It's fantastic when you see you were a pretty good judge of character all those years ago. Many of the 'golden people' are unrecognizable in the crowd, not in a bad way, but the people who really stand out are the folks whose good character now shines through. It's really satisfying to drive home after a reunion like that and know that even in a tough high school situation, I managed to find some of the nicest people in the world and somehow, luckily, persuade them to be my friends.
I wanted to come home last night and write, write, write. I was flooded with memories and crazy stories and assumptions and ideas that put me back in that teen-age place. Then, a talented friend, RUSSELL COREY, gave me a copy of his book I Want My MTV which was based on his journals in high school. My husband and I read the first dozen or so pages of it (so far--can't wait to finish) and laughed so hard because it's dead on, that teen-age feeling is strangely so universal, yet you are convinced you are the ONLY ONE worried about your hair or whatever. It reminded me of what I loved about teaching 8th graders. They were pure, unfiltered humanity. What they did and said was as close to basic, untrained, human instincts as you can get, and it was flat out hilarious. Why? Because it's true. The amazing writer, Jerry Spinelli, once said in a workshop on writing humor: True is funny. And he was right. True is funny because it resonates. True is familiar. You have BEEN THERE (or maybe you are STILL THERE). You get it.
So this morning, as I am still a bit affected by the big time we had last night , I realized that on my way home, in my gin and tonic blur, I dropped my cell phone in the cup of my husband's coffee (I usually keep my phone in that cup holder which is usually empty), and I think it's because, transported back to my high school self, I didn't even know what a cell phone was. At any rate, I salute you all, Cary High School Class of 1987. What an awesome group of kind, caring, talented people roamed those halls. How good for the world that you have spread yourselves out from California to Texas to New York to Virginia and then all across NC. Take your light into those dark places, be the good you want to see in the world, and know that everywhere you go, in little old Edenton, NC, you have an old friend and your own personal cheerleader , watching and praying for your success, your safety and your happiness.
I couldn't help but think of our senior class song called STANDING ON A MEMORY, and it seems even more appropriate now than 25 years ago. Standing on these memories, we have all built our lives and grown up, a part of each other forever. And my high school self would ask, "How cool is that?"
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.