Twenty years and back againAugust 2, 2016 at 12:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: high school reunion, photos
Not much has changed in my hometown since 1996. Birkenstocks are back in style. Tune into 98.9 The Rock and you’ll still hear Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. And there’s a Clinton running for President.
Some things have changed, though. The house I grew up in has changed color, the décor and furniture have been updated, and the backyard looks completely different. I’m sleeping in the same bed at my parent’s house as I did in my youth, except now I share it with a fussy toddler. And, of course, my fellow graduates of Lee’s Summit High School and I have, shall we say, aged a bit.
Our twentieth high school reunion this weekend was quite an extravaganza. A two-day event, even. Friday night, about fifty of us met at the tiger head with our parents, siblings, spouses and children for a tour of our alma mater. I brought my mom and the kids. I was sad to see the classroom where we put together the school newspaper every month was completely gutted. In fact, most of the upper-classman section (called Div 2 in my day) was under construction. In the PAC, Liam ran around on the stage with some of the other kids. When one of his friends asked him to join her up the stairs of a stage set, he decided against it. He deemed it too dangerous…didn’t trust the builder. This kid.
I saw many familiar faces on our tour, gave many a warm embrace and fawned over many an adorable child. The lunch room was smaller than I remembered it…and one section in the back was completely rebuilt. The breezeway from the lunchroom to the under-classman section (Div 1, see what they did there?) was completely enclosed and air-conditioned. Back in ’96 our school only had air-conditioning in the PAC. Kids these days have it so easy! I found my old German classroom…which appeared to be used for band practice now. Climbing the stairs from the PAC back to Div 2, I suddenly remembered standing right in that hallway as the OJ Simpson verdict was read. As I mentioned it to my mom, a guy piped up behind me — turns out he was actually with me when that happened! I’d completely forgotten. We were doing a poll for the newspaper, and we could hear the TV on in all of the classrooms we were passing. I remembered hearing them all echo in the halls as we peeked our heads inside to find out the news.
Violet got a little sidetracked at the lockers, toddling down the row and spinning all of the combination wheels she could reach. The kids spent the rest of the tour running around the Field House and the football field. By the time we got home they were ready for bed…and I was ready to continue the celebration at a bar downtown. Drunken merriment ensued. My girlfriends and I kept pointing out people to each other, “Who is that? Was she in our class?” It was hard to tell our classmates from the bar flies. Thankfully everyone would be wearing name tags for the reunion Saturday. It seemed most of my classmates wanted to stand outside…right next to the band. So we had to shout at each other, “What have you been up to? Where are you living now? How many kids do you have?” Sheesh. I’m too old for this. I was back home before midnight.
Saturday night, the main event, was held at Stonehaus Winery at 6 o’clock. I was “fashionably” late (putting a baby to bed…nothing fashionable about that), and I was met with a line out the door for booze. Better get in line then! Immediately I recognized the people around me: Mary and Kara, Adam, Katie, and Toji!! So many more passed by to say hi with a hug. Thanks to Facebook I’d kept in touch with most of them, but it was still great to hear more details about their lives now. Grunge music filled the hall — my musical tastes are still stuck in the mid-90s, so I was loving it. Angst! Yeah! A wine glass in each hand (so I wouldn’t have to stand in that long-ass line again), I set about to mingle. Lots of Hi-Life alums, IB classmates, and theater folks I had to talk to. I surprised a lot of friends when I told them I lived in Greece now. Turned out to be a great conversation-starter. Outside on the lawn I took a much quieter seat to catch up with Joanne and Bernadette. Many of us are moms now, and I even discovered one grandma (Wow!). One friend I didn’t even recognize she has changed so much. It was great to catch up with her.
I spent a fabulous half hour taking selfies with my best friend, Katie. I remember we sat together on the first day in Mrs. Long’s fourth grade class at Westview Elementary. She had big glasses and an even bigger personality. I was the smallest kid in the class. By the end of the day she told me were going to be best friends. I happily agreed, and the rest is history. We both worked for the high school newspaper, we both went to J-school at Mizzou, and we both had our kids at about the same time. After graduation, our relationship ebbed and flowed, as friendships often do when you don’t live in the same town. We lost touch for a little while there, but somehow reconnected as adults. And I’m so happy we did. Now we do play dates whenever I’m in town. Our oldest kids are the same age, and they played so well together on this visit! The next generation of best friends, perhaps?
The class of ’96 was the last class to graduate before the new high school opened, and I think that instilled some comradery among all the different clichés. Sure, we had jocks and brains and all of that, but I felt like our circles comingled. That being said, there were still an awful lot of kids I never got to know, and quite a few at the reunion I had never met. My memory is such crap now, though, that sometimes someone would know me and I’d have no idea how I knew them. Thank god for the nametags! Near the end of the night I locked eyes with one girl and instantly recognized her…and yet I couldn’t remember her name or why I knew her so well. Curse you, mommy brain! This baby is sucking out all of my brain cells.
As the party started winding down, I turned to see about a dozen tired husbands sitting around mostly empty tables. What a priceless visual! And it made me glad I’d left mine back at home. I’m sure he was glad, too, ha! With more than 200 guests, this reunion was going to go down in the record books for sure. I don’t think we had so many at the last one of these I attended a decade ago. I was there four hours, but I could have stayed so much longer talking to people. Alas, I had that cruel toddler wake-up call in the morning, so at midnight I knew it was time to scoot. I’m sure there were after parties, and I’m sure they were fun. Sigh. Perhaps in another ten years when Violet is 11 (yikes, I can hardly imagine that!) I’ll go to one of those.