As a social person, I love class reunions. Social media has helped me stay in touch with many high school classmates but face-to-face gatherings are truly more authentic. But I will admit to having a touch of anxiety before my 30th class reunion in October.
Why wasn’t I serious about getting in shape? What am I going to wear? What are people going to ask me – and what if I don’t remember people? These are just a few of the questions that haunted me the night before the party.
Ours was a very casual gathering – no name tags, no RSVPs, no signs at the door. Just like high school, I met up with several friends and we arrived together. For many it is easier to go into an event with someone you know. I do this professionally, too. I will arrange to meet a colleague in the parking lot before entering the conference.
I was worried about getting into uncomfortable conversations. What if someone wanted to start talking politics or gossip about a former classmate? So, my friend (that I’ve known since age 5 in Mrs. Schafer’s Kindergarten) and I made a code word. If we needed to leave early or get out of a discussion, we would signal to the other verbally. This also alleviated my stress and became a joke throughout the night.
It’s true we all had changed. Several times I needed help to remember names. But once we started reminiscing about teachers, class memories and friends no longer with us, we were the same as ever. Our shared experience of high school is a thread that connects us.
The reunion was a lot of fun. It was good for my soul to be with people who ‘knew me when’. Classmates who knew me during some very awkward times, before I was approved to own a car or house, before I had a family or a profession. I was just Sarah Raddatz from Central High School – and I was home.
Update: I diligently wrote this article in the Fall but wasn’t ready to press publish. Many months later I am happy to report how many of us have continued to stay in touch. I’ve been known to publish a silly photo on our reunion website but I’ve also learned when a friend’s mother died.
P.S. If you aren’t amused by my 1980’s hair there is something wrong with you!