35 years have passed. 35 years (you do the math) since i graduated that hotbed of social clumsiness called high school. 35 years ago i was a smart loud acceptably-social-but-no-where-near-the-top-of-the-middle-pack-of-peers brassy unibrowed child pretending i was ready to go onto college (but really just working on propelling myself out of my home with not much actual thought to the needs or wants of college). and 35 years later, an informal reunion that put at least 50 of us all from our year – and another 50 from the year before us – in one bar/restaurant on a saturday night outside of philly. aside from the insanity of it all, it was weird and cool to be in a room where EVERYONE was your age within a year or two. good, bad, or indifferent, we were all about 52 years old.
i had been to one reunion about 10 years post-graduation and i felt so unformed still. even as marriages and babies and big careers were forming in my former classmates lives – mine was still just shaping with possibilities and left-turns. and now, all these years later, i had to navigate which story – which timeline to tell to people – some of whom i remembered clearly and many of whom were foggy ‘i think i remember you’ moments. lived around the world. retired from showbiz. (SHOWBIZ? REALLY?) really. jazz/cabaret singer. really. REALLY. music teacher. real estate broker. mom. wife. breast cancer survivor.
i wasn’t the only one. survivor that is. i had a huge hug with one woman who friended me on facebook – she remembered me distinctly (“i remember you in girl scouts and you walked pigeon-toed) and i remembered her vaguely – but we have both been through the b.c. mill – and my big hug and giant smile was because she was less an old friend than a big new friend and we were in the same dubious club. i didn’t advertise my survivorship but there was the guy i dated at the end of high school (still with the same really cute impy smile that made you want to say ‘yes’) and the high school guy i dated post-high school who looked drawn in his physique and tenuous in his life – lots of almost-relationships and not much satisfaction from what i could tell – it was sad that perhaps his best glory days were in high school. but to both of those men and a few women i knew well (and who friended me on facebook so knew from my very public profile what i had been through) i did talk about it as one of the chapters of my life. but then i left the discussion behind because i was not going to have a neon i-had-cancer sign hanging over my head. i said yes to going – but i had much apprehension. for having been on stage for many years, i am not good at big social gatherings (perhaps that’s why i was always on stage instead of in the big group). but i am very glad i went. we were all of us there – beer or soda in hand – smiles on faces and in our 50’s. some already weren’t – didn’t make it this far. so it was good to enjoy that we were still here and had, in a way, known each other for all this time. it meant something. it wasn’t perfect. there were still a few snobs. a few exclusions. but mostly it felt like a good connection. onward ho.