I just attended my 35th high school reunion, Class of 75. We talked about teachers, Our headmaster getting shot, who threw the sculpture in the ravine, our dying, dead, living parents, the past, the present, our plans for the future, we laughed about nearly all of it because we had been through so much and yet we were happy to be alive and grateful for it all. I was able to tell a wonderful man I was sorry for the havoc I caused in his life. I listened to a classmate talk about her struggle with multiple losses and her own recent bout of cancer. I reconnected with a close friend and discovered I wrote brilliantly for the school newspaper which was something I never managed to put on any resume.
It takes a certain amount of humility to turn up for these things. I meant to lose twenty pounds and get published again but I didn't. I took my unskinny, unpublished self to this place that once caused me such anxiety and pain and felt nothing but love and pride in knowing the flawed, powerful people I knew once as a child. In fact there was someone there from my 6th grade class at Lawrence Elementary who swears he remembers our completely crazy teacher tying me to a chair once. I suppose that should disturb me. It sounds like child abuse. Somehow, however, I love being that kid, that barefoot, wild child kid that caused a control freak teacher to lose it.
The magical thing is no one has changed. There is still the wise ass, the crazy girl, the diplomat, the rebel, the guy no one recognizes and you wonder if he may be a reunion crasher except he keeps showing up. Your classmates will be eighteen forever. You will be eighteen forever teetering on the brink, deep breath, step forward, don't forget the world you are leaving because that world won't forget you. There will be a time someone shares a photograph of you, rapt in history class, long haired, slender, nearly beautiful and you will recognize yourself and wish you'd known you were perfect.