When I was approaching high school, my mom gave me this advice-
Whatever your reputation is in high school is how the people in high school will always remember you.
She said this so I would know that my actions would leave a lasting impression.
It is true. You see people and remember them the way they were, unable to mix into your impression all the ingredients the last twenty years have added to their lives.
Initially, I left the reunion with the conclusion that everyone was really the same. The girl who was a leader is still a leader. The boy who was witty is still witty. The over-achiever is still an over-achiever. People don't really change.
But, people do grow. Some of the girls who had hard edges in high school were softer and kinder- perhaps the result of mothering. Some of the men who had joy and the excitement of world before them in their eyes as teenagers now had a hint of defeat there instead. And those who hated high school, not knowing how to "do high school" had realized that they were much better at doing life than high school.
I made this last observation after talking with a few people who said to me- I just didn't know how to do high school. It was said with a hint of wistfulness, as if some small part of them would like to go back and try it all over again with their more mature selves. I suspect that if given the chance though, they would decline. As would I and most of the rest of the adult world.
One conversation will stay with me while all of the silliness and laughter and fun contained in the rest of the night will most likely be forgotten. It was with a girl I knew in high school, but never really talked to all that much. I went up to say hello to her.
She looked lovely at her husband's side. Peaceful. Serene. She introduced me to her husband, we discovered we are both mother's of boys and then she brought up how she never felt comfortable in her own skin in high school.
I told her that I was never comfortable in my own skin in high school. In fact, it took me until my thirties to finally feel that way. She seemed surprised, somehow relieved. She wasn't as alone as she had always thought she was.
The truth is that we were all struggling, dealing with issues at home while trying to make our way, to either gain our place or keep it.
Thinking about this, I go back to my whole premise of this blog that it is so much better as mothers, as friends, as people to be transparent and real. Just think of how much we all could have helped one another as our teenage selves if we just been a little more transparent and a little less self-absorbed. I realize that this is the nature of being a teen, but still- can you imagine how it would change high school?
I am glad I went. It was great to be with my classmates. However, I am still having trouble digesting that it has been twenty years. Really- what is up with this whole thing of aging on the outside, but never feeling like you have aged on the inside?
Do you go to your reunions? Do you think people change?