While children force us to mark the years, for me the time following high school, through university and shortly thereafter all seem to blend into one period. When someone suggests it’s been 15 years since I lived in a certain location, 12 years since I traveled to a particular place, or seven years since I finished a course or worked in that office, I often shake my head in disbelief.
Last weekend about 30 of the 90 members of my graduating class descended upon Grand Falls-Windsor, some with significant others in tow, for our 20-year high school reunion. It turns out the Salmon Festival weekend was a popular time for reunions, as I heard of three others happening concurrently.
There was some apprehension about meeting up with people I hadn’t talked to in 20 years, but others shared in the nervousness.
The weekend began with a meet and greet, a fabulous way to break the ice and become reacquainted with each other. Some even began the festivities the night before, and many continued on afterward. The ice was definitely broken. The following evening’s reunion dinner was a relaxing sit down affair full of shared memories and games throughout the night. And then came the 80s and 90s music we rocked out to. Ah, the memories.
Sadly, our group had lost two members – a classmate and a teacher. A tree-planting was arranged for Sunday morning as a token in their honour. It was a somber moment but a beautiful one because we looked back in appreciation for all these two individuals had given us. Together we realized how rich our experiences had been because of them.
Then came the family fun day, a great success if my having to drag my daughter away after several hours so we could make the drive home was any indication. My classmates ranged from experienced parents of 20-something-year-olds to a lactating goddess feeding her newish arrival to the expecting, but pizza, ice cream sundaes and games catered to the median pre-school and primary school age of most children in the group.
Some things change, some don’t
Some things seemed unchanged, however: the energetic and uplifting were still bright and cheery, the leadership was provided by those who led 20 years ago, and the high school sweethearts had found each other again. But the years have brought us all new experiences and conversations to share. Some people who I never connected with in high school now shared common interests and passions. Old friends may have drifted away after school and found different experiences, but still re-joined to share old memories. The ties that bind still exist, and more were discovered.
My mom always scoffed at high school students being told their graduation would be the best day of their life. Not to discount anyone for whom this might be true, but I think at the end of our lives few will recall that single day in our late teens as the defining moment of our days. Indeed, life goes on. Weddings, anniversaries, the birth of children, the trip of a lifetime, or small moments that may have seemed insignificant at the time—a child’s first smile at you, a friend’s compliment, or a spouse’s kind and significant gesture—will hopefully fill the remaining 50 or so years with more days among the best.
The rediscovered bond
If I may, I would suggest you take the opportunity to attend your next reunion. There was a friendliness amongst everyone to connect with each other, though there may not have been time to catch up with everyone. But the concerted effort was evident, and we all agreed we hadn’t aged a bit. My husband even noted a cohesiveness among the group that he wouldn’t expect from one of his high school reunions. I know not everyone’s experience of high school or connection to their group of grads is the same, but thanks to the GFA Class of ‘92 for a weekend of memories, new and old. See you all at the next one!