Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Years

I went home to Utah about a month ago.  More than just to see the family and introduce most of them to Lizzy, I also went home to throw a bridal shower for my little sister (Liz), as well as attend my 10-year high school reunion.

The shower went smoothly.  It turned out so, so cute.  Our mission was to make Lizzy (my sister, not baby) feel special, and I think we did just that.

Baby Lizzy was a champ the whole trip.  Because of the shower, she got to meet a good portion of the family, and she didn't disappoint.  She is such a good baby.

And last but not least, (insert pregnant pause) the reunion.  (insert prolonged, awkward silence)

Unlike more than one person I talked to about this whole reunion thing, I was set on going.  Was I excitedly awaiting that Saturday night?  Not really.  More like anxiously awaiting it.  Though initially on the fence, I really thought I should go.  True story, I included it as one of my goals for the year.  Had I not "committed" to going in January, I may not have gone at all.  Regardless, I bought my ticket -- and plane ticket -- and went.

Some history:  After high school, I spent the summer being unproductive, then headed off to good ol' Utah Valley to BYU, never to return home to stay longer than a few weeks at a time.  I finished college, got married, and moved to the Midwest.  And here I am.  Perhaps going back for my reunion was to smooth the abrupt ending that punctuated my school-age years.

Over the years, I have stayed in touch with a handful of people; probably only about a dozen people and more like half a dozen good friends.  Yet, attending my reunion wasn't to resuscitate dead friendships.  Nor was it to show off what I've done and where I've been the last ten years.  Or stick it to the people who made my life miserable.  No.  I actually had a pretty good high school experience.  Full of drama, let downs, disappointments, embarrassments and angst.  And equally full of fun memories, hilarious experiences, good friends, victories, character building, along with a side of education.  I don't believe any one person made my high school years or any year miserable for me, nor do I think I did that for any one person, either.   Saying all this, I now realize my high school experience was waaaay different than many others.  Even for many with whom I attended the same school over the same years.  I understand many of us had many different experiences, outcomes, friendships and overall feelings about that school on Laker Way.  I think I sort of understood this then, but I definitely better appreciate and can respect/sympathize/understand this better now.

One of my greatest anxieties about going to this reunion was forgetting peoples' names.  Petty.  Yeah, I cringe at admitting that.  And yet I know there were more than a few who were facing greater demons than that.  Classmates who couldn't stand the thought of being in the same room with individuals who made their teenage years hell.  Those who were ashamed of who they were then and how they would be perceived now.  Classmates who couldn't care less about even dipping their toes back into tumultuous waters that were known as high school.  Those who felt their  present lives had fallen short of where they could've/should've/would've been.   And those who quite honestly had nothing to show for the last ten years of their lives.

I suppose there comes a time for everyone, a wake-up call, where we have to stop and take stock of ourselves.  It may come in the form of facing danger/death, witnessing a miracle, getting married, getting divorced, having a child, breaking addiction...or facing the people who knew you ten years previous.  Kind of makes my stomach turn to think of it.  But also makes me feel good about who I am, what I've been doing, as well as who I was.

That Saturday night, the conversation was easy with most.  Sometimes the catching-up checklist.  Sometimes more personal.  Sometimes really remarkable.

Thankfully only one really weird/awkward conversation where I felt like the three on the other end had laser beam eyes and rather than roll them at me, they aimed and fired.  Like, "Ok, well, I really don't care about you or this lame-a** reunion so please just shut up and leave."  That was the honest vibe.  Weird, but whatever.

And of course the head-turner.  The one who everyone was surprised by and talking about (think pink hair, corset, boots and boobs).  But the one who ends up being one of the most dynamic person of the night, who you've now "Friended", appreciate their not-so-traditional and completely out-of-the-box self (costume-making?!), and who you now are totally rooting for.

Overall, it was surprising to see how visually apparent the satisfaction/settledness/sadness with one's life was.  It seems we wear these feelings more openly when they aren't crowded by cliques, jackets, stereotypes or extracurricular stuff.  It was almost shocking to see with my own eyes how faces reflected the status of one's life, for better or not so much.  I hope this doesn't come off as holier-than-thou, critical or condescending.  Yet my greatest excitement of the night was to see those who were happy, truly happy, doing good things, having overcome challenges and progressing in life.  Regardless of who they "were,"  it made me happy to see who they are.  In a way, even proud.  Proud of them.  Proud that they have moved on and moved up.  Proud of who they are and who they were.

By the end of the night, I felt like I had to catch my breath.  Kind of like I'd been running for the previous two hours and just couldn't get into a rhythm.  I just sort of felt out of it.  Out of place?  I don't know about that.  Just odd.  I needed to digest, regroup and recap.  And now that a month has passed, I think I've regrouped enough to realize that this night I had nervously awaited actually taught me a thing or two.  
  • You don't have to be best friends or even friends with everyone, but respect is a must.
  • There is a difference between friends, "friends" and real friends.  I thought I knew this years ago, but turns out I didn't.  And learning this has come with a little disappointment and gratitude.  
  • High school will come back to you -- for better or worse.  The odds of working with an old classmate, living near one, or associating with more closely than you ever thought you would/could are much higher than I ever anticipated.  I'm glad I didn't do anything majorly offensive to someone because they would likely move next door to me.  
  • Kindness goes a long way.  Everyone -- EVERYONE -- wants to feel accepted, important, valued.  Even the most "secure" person has insecurities.  Just being nice regardless of any preconceived stipulations does more good than I ever thought.  
  • I don't care so much about the popularity, extracurricular activities, or even grades.  Rather, my hopes for my children through their growing-up year are pretty simple:  they will be kind to others, they will be liked by others, and they will have a solid set of friends who help them do good.  
  • High school is part of who i am; I'm not embarrassed about it.  Though looking back, I did some really stupid/embarrassing things.  
  • Never, ever, in a million years would I go back; but I did enjoy myself.  
  • I was immature then.  And rightfully so.  My ideas of what was cool/important/worth my time were oftentimes shallow.  Consequently, I missed out on what could have been really great friendships.  It's a shame.  But I'm glad there is time now to continue and even start lasting friendships.   


nate said...

Good for you, Katie. I really like this. I especially like your hopes for your children. Those are spot on. I am so glad you came to the reunion. It was definitely a night to remember. (signed in as nate, but it's me, MWG)

Auntie Lolo said...

Thanks for the reunion recap! I have to say that I don't have a memory of you being anything but kind and including. High school is tricky! If I could go back I would have quit worrying about what everyone thought about me and just have been myself. Open my mouth more in front of people who weren't just my "best friends". Oh and I would have been worried about remembering names too!! :)

Kristen said...

awesome post, you are such a great writer.