27 October 2011

40 Thoughts for 40 Years

This past Saturday I went to my 40th High School reunion.
Here are 40 thoughts, in no order what-so-ever.
1) I would not have known about this because it was only publicized on Facebook which I am not on, and do not want to be.  A friend saw it and passed it on to another friend who passed it on to me.  If the people in your reunion class are older than computers, don't use a social network as your only publicizing tool.
2) This was casual and casual is good.  Deciding what to wear with blue jeans is easier than deciding what to wear.
3) The organizers smartly provided name tags with our old yearbook pictures.  A really good idea.
4) The name tags were stick on and most of the time they didn't (stick on).  I don't know if I have a better idea but there must be one.
5) I went to the 10 year reunion.  I was with husband #1 and I was pregnant.  Most everyone came with a spouse and I wasn't the only one pregnant.
6) I went to the 20 year reunion.  It was 2 days after my divorce from husband #1 was final.  I wasn't the only one divorced.  The party went on well into the early morning.
7) I did not go to the 30 year reunion.  It was 2001 and soon after 9-11.
8) When I saw the black & orange tablecloths I thought they were for Halloween.  But no, black & orange are the school colors.  So much for school spirit.
9) The reunion was held at the American Legion.  So was the 20th.  So was the reception for my 1st wedding.  It is an OK location for a reunion.  I hated having my reception there.
10) I did not bring my husband (#2).  Unless your spouse is a fellow alumni do yourself and them a favor - leave them home.
11) I went to the reunion with 2 old friends.  One I have stayed in contact with since 5th grade when we 1st met.  The other was a close friend also but only the other friend kept in touch with her thru the years.  I hope our reconnect continues.
12) In high school it was (is?) hard for 3 girls to be friends.  Too much competition and allegiances shift too often.  I imagine it is still the same for today's high school girls.
13) I did not know one guy very well during high school but we ended up working together for years before my recent retirement.  We were in the exact same work unit, in the same job title, went to the same staff meetings.  We became good friends.  Funny to be at a reunion with someone you got to know well after high school.
14) My friends were staying in one's mother's house.  So I got to drive through my old neighborhood to get there.  I love my old neighborhood.  I had a great childhood there.
15) The party started at 7:00.  I get up every day at 4:00.  I did not know how long I would last.  I made it til 10:30.  Better than I expected.
16) I had seen some of these people 20 years ago.  But there were lots of people I hadn't seen in 40 years.  Where do you start a conversation after 40 years?
17) High school was very clique-oriented.  The jocks and cheerleaders, frats and sororities, the smart, library kids, the nerds, and because it was the 60's&70's, of course the hippies.
18) I was definitely a hippy and hippies by nature aren't really a clique.  Like many of the hippies I was happiest with with the library kids - so much overlap in those groups that maybe they were one.  I had friends who were cheerleaders and some in sororities.  I think life was easiest for the kids who were distinctly in one group.  Life was never easy for me in high school.
19) Is high school ever easy for anyone?  In any decade?
20) The cliques still seemed to clique at the 10 and 20 year reunions.
21) I don't think I noticed cliques at the 40th.  Everyone seemed sincerely happy to see everyone.
22) First we tried to guess who people were.  Once identified, how well did they age?  
23) In general the women were easier to identify.  I think balding is not kind to men.  To see someone you last remember having hair and now they don't - it really changes appearances.  Changes, but not necessarily for the worse - lots of guys look great regardless.
24) At the 20th two alumni connected, got married, and are still together & happy.  How many new couples are formed at reunions I wonder?  How many are successful?
25) Before the party I checked out our yearbook for pictures and whatever little blurb was written under the pictures.  One friend said he planned to go to college & become a millionaire.  He went to college.  He is not a millionaire.
26) Once I retired I stopped wearing makeup - thought of it as my work persona.  I wondered if I should wear makeup to the reunion - I certainly wore it in high school.  I finally decided 'no' and I'm still comfortable with that decision.  Makeup isn't me any more.
27) After 2 or 3 conversations the format was settled.  Where do you live? Are you married?  Divorced?  Kids? Grandkids?  Still working?  What do you do (whether working or retired)?
28) People fell into 2 groups.  Either looking really good for their age.  Or, looking pretty bad for their age.  So I'm not sure how we should look for our age.
29) One of the organizers said that she and some others got there at 10:30 that morning to decorate.  There were plastic black and orange tablecloths & 2 signs with letters cut out of paper 'Class of 1971 40th Reunion'.  Seriously - multiple people showed up in the morning to do all that decorating?  I contributed nothing but my $20 so I suppose I am just being snarky.
30) I think everyone dressed appropriately for our age.  Good for us.
31) The cash bar was the most popular spot but no one created a drunken spectacle.  There was less restraint at the 20th.
32) Quite a few women had the same hairstyle.  I include myself but I really don't consider long and straight to be a style.  Fortunately hair in the 70's was pretty unexceptional (maybe not so much for the guys).  If you graduated in the 80's I doubt there will be many with the same huge hairstyles at that reunion - guessing who's who will be a real challenge for them.
33) (This particular memory is just for me.)
34) Some of the guys I talked to have kids who are now in high school.  Some have kids in elementary school.  Obviously they married much younger women.  Usually this was a second or third marriage, and often they had older children from marriage #1 too.
35) Even if our age were not a factor, I did not talk to one woman who would want to have young children again. We are happy to have young grandchildren.  Not young children that we would be responsible for 24/7.
36) One woman brought her mother to the reunion.  Seemed odd but I never did find out why.
37) One woman had always been a part of the 'in' crowd.  She was always dating.  She never married.  She's very happy and I'm glad for her.  I was just surprised.
38) Two members of our class had a band when we were in high school.  They still have a band & they played at the reunion.
39) The band was good.  But too loud.  And people at their 40th reunion don't hear so great any more.  Once the band started conversation was almost impossible.  People want to talk at reunions.
40) I think I will look forward to the 50th.

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