Ten years ago, I was invited to attend my 10th high school reunion. But I declined.
Only four months had passed since I had gotten married and moved to Michigan. I was extremely homesick for my family and close friends, but I still declined. DW made it quite clear that he had no problem with me taking a few days and enjoying some Texas weather. My mom even said she would watch The Tortoise, who was three at the time, while I was attending. Financially, it would not have been a challenge. And yet, I declined.
“Oh, no, ” I insisted, “I don’t want to leave you here all alone. I have morning sickness. I don’t like flying. I have plans that weekend. Blah, blah, blah.”
The truth was, I was embarrassed. Ten years after graduation I believed I had made no real achievements. I dropped out of the music program and gave up my scholarship. Then it took me nine years to graduate college with an English degree. I had no career or even a job. I had spent a couple of years living with my parents while I finished college and raised my oldest daughter. For those first ten years after graduation I isolated myself from all of my childhood friends. I was 28, divorced, re-married with a three-year old from a failed marriage and newly pregnant, so none of my clothes fit. The last thing I wanted to do was open myself up to a roomful of individuals and justify the last ten years of my life. Especially the very people who remembered me being a much thinner, articulate, perky, high-energy band geek that had big plans for her future. None of which came to fruition.
This October will be my 20th high school reunion. There will be a pep-rally, a family dinner, a homecoming game, a tour of our newly rebuilt school and a main event complete with dinner and dancing. This time, however, there was no hesitation. I accepted and immediately purchased my tickets. The funny thing is, nothing has changed. I am still a divorced, re-married mother of two, who does not have a steady job and can’t fit in to most of her clothes. My perspective is different. Now I am proud of being a college graduate, regardless of how long it took me to graduate. I am thankful that I get to stay home with my kids because no paycheck could be big enough to replace having lunch with my children or going on a field-trip. I am grateful that I don’t have a punch-card schedule to keep me from doing the things I am most passionate about and every pound on this body is a reward for celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, having dinner and drinks with my friends, eating raw cookie dough with my girls or pizza on Friday nights with their friends and downing buckets of popcorn and hot pretzels while I cheer for soccer, swimming or gymnastics.
High school reunions are not about boasting or showcasing our achievements. They aren’t opportunities to “show-up” those girls who snubbed us years ago, or prove to some boy he missed out on an amazing woman. Reunions aren’t about sliding back into our teen-selves and recreating the same childish clicks we adhered to in our youth. They are about coming together as more compassionate, more honest, more tolerant and wiser adults to share in fellowship. After all, didn’t we spend four years together trying to figure out friendships, relationships, heartaches, failures and successes. We spent four years shedding our youth and trying on our futures. We spent four years trying to figure out how to be enough. It would be awesome to come back and say to one another, “yes, you are enough.”
We were then.
We are now.
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