High School reunions are notorious. The thought of being in the same room as the people who you well know were your judge and jurors at a time in your life when you were your prettiest and still didn’t cut you any slack. You see/live in your 30 years and 30 extra pounds and surely, there’s no forgiveness for these crimes. You aren’t going to any reunion. Ever. The end.
And then there’s the real story. This is mine.
I went for four primary years to an all girls school, 7th through 10th grades. This was a smart girl school. During my 10th grade year, my father informed me he would no longer be paying for this education. It was intimated that I wasn’t working hard enough to make it worth the expenditure. I was very distracted by boys at the time and maybe he was right. But then again, I didn’t have parents who were together and I got to act out any way I could. It is also very hard on adolescents when you move them from their primary environment and force them out into the street. The message I heard was that I wasn’t worth “it”.
I suffered in-completion nightmares for years even though I knew I’d graduated from college already. I was happily back graduating with them in the tight-knit community that would be their 12th grade experience.
I made do with a year at a public high school and requested a transfer to college a year early only needing two credits to graduate high school. I was on a college campus at 16.
Eventually I graduated from college and moved on and up and out of the city. But I never lost that feeling of being lost from that place in my life. Displaced. I would never feel what it was like to walk across the stage and be handed a diploma. Or be asked to a reunion. No completion.
And as I have worked hard to find my truest self these days, I heard about a 30th year reunion for this same high school. And then, I happened upon the yearbook online for that year. There was even a page dedicated to those of us who were lost along the way. Lost at Sea as there was a nautical motif going that year. And this made me think about the story I’d been telling myself all these years about no one really caring that I’d disappeared. And now, maybe I needed to edit it.
It wasn’t that everyone didn’t care that I had left. Kids just accept that stuff happens when parents make decisions about their kids and families and life. No one really knew where I went. But I needed to find myself to be found. And to be proud of who I have become. Which I really am. All the hard work and writing has made me such a better clearer stronger person. Someone who could walk in to a room full of strangers and become friends again. And that’s just what I did.
Last Saturday night, I drove an hour and a half to show up to the fabulous house of a woman I used to go to high school with. Her girls were the same age as my boy and I could not have felt more welcomed. Over and over, each and every woman who I saw that night was sweet and kind and we all agreed that it was as if time hadn’t passed. We all were healthy and exuberant and young. Even for thirty years later. And I remarked, thirty years more and we’d all be excited to still be standing.
My new story is that I got lost along the way and I found myself in the lost and found box. And I was returned to my rightful place with these gals all on their parallel journeys to see where life and motherhood will take us. It was really just that easy.
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