Five years ago, I missed my high school reunion for the first time. I had planned on attending, but what I hadn’t planned on was my world imploding a few weeks prior to the event. As the classmates from our all girls Catholic high school took a stroll down memory lane, I was staying in my own lane, as I faced my impending divorce and a bout of anxiety and depression. I vowed that I would never miss another reunion, and last night, I made good on that promise. But I almost didn’t.
When the reunion invitation appeared in my mailbox, I was surprised when I questioned whether or not I would make an appearance. At first, I felt ambivalent about attending, and this ambivalence was soon replaced by resistance. I was not sure where these feelings were coming from, but as the reunion drew closer, I felt myself withdrawing further and further.
Even after I sent in my RSVP at the last minute that I would be there, I continued to feel a rush of teenage angst, rather than the nostalgia so many of my classmates were experiencing. As old photos, memorabilia, and memories were being shared on social media, I just couldn’t join in the fun. But why?!
I had a very positive experience in high school with this special group of women, and I had enjoyed all of our previous reunions so much. Thanks to social media, I have been able to maintain relationships with many of our classmates, and I truly love, admire, and respect them. It was a case of it’s not you, it’s me. I really wanted to share in their excitement, but something would not allow me to do so.
Yesterday, I woke up feeling stressed and anxious, as the reunion was looming in the not so distant future. Tick tock. Tick tock. I felt like a ticking time bomb. As I took a walk, in an attempt to clear my mind, so many thoughts ran amok through my head. Since our last reunion, I have experienced a divorce, depression and anxiety, a change of jobs, and breast cancer, and I found myself feeling like I did not have much to bring to the reunion table. Then, leave it to our classmates to remind me that I just had to bring myself.
Before the reunion kicked off, I met four of my classmates for lunch. As we talked, laughed, and even shed a tear or two, I felt my anxiety and resistance begin to melt. Their words, actions, and recollections of our days in high school reminded me that we may have graduated and taken different paths, but at our core, we really are all in this together. We have had plenty to celebrate. Births. Marriages. New jobs. New homes. Trips. We also have had reasons to mourn. Deaths. Illnesses. Divorce. Loss of jobs.
Some connections have been strengthened over the years, while others that did not even exist when we were in school together have been forged. Still other connections have been strained or severed, but there is the memory of what was once there. Regardless of the type of connection, there was and always would be something that connected each one of us to each other, and it was ours for the taking.
All any of us had to bring to the table last night and any other night for that matter was our authentic selves, and I would like to think that, collectively, we did just that. That was enough. We were enough.
I also learned that I was not the only one who felt apprehension about attending the reunion, as several others shared similar thoughts and feelings with me. I was proud of each of us for facing our fears and insecurities and showing up. Actually, we didn’t show up, we lived it up!
As the evening wound down with a night-cap and late night snack at a local eatery, I gazed around the room and took in the laughter and chatter. It felt like an adult version of our old cafeteria with better food and a swankier atmosphere. It also felt like true bliss, and I wanted to freeze that moment. I had gone from not wanting to go to not wanting the evening to end, but it did. Fortunately, the memories and friendships are never-ending.
To my amazing classmates, both those who were at our reunion physically and those who were there in spirit, I thank you for everything you have added, and continue to add, to my life since I was 14 years old. Until we meet again, may your good times far outnumber your challenging times, and when those challenges arise, always remember that you are part of the heart and never go it alone. We are classmates, friends, and sisters for life, and I love you all, even you, Stegner! See you in 5 years . . .
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story