Tonight was just a warm up, cocktails and appetizers before the grand dinner tomorrow night at the Lido Yacht Club in Newport Beach.
I could make some cynical comments like, the women’s hairdressers are doing very well, and the men’s don’t have quite so much to do…it is the 20th anniversary of our 20th after all. The lonely girls with no social skills remain so.
But it was, so far, actually much more fun and heartwarming than that. Meeting a bunch of maybe 75 new people (100 booked for tomorrow night, not too bad for a class of 330 40 years ago).
It was a very clique-ridden high school. (Are there any that weren’t?) Do you remember the intense paralysis that resulted from that when you were 16 or 18? If you did one thing that was ridiculed by someone, anyone, it would be remembered forever. Add that extreme judgment to the normal gawkishness of being a teenager–you could not pay me enough to be in high school again.
“You only knew them 7 years (that would be 6th grade through high school, the same group of 330 kids),” David commented when he heard I was coming. “That’s not very long in the story of your life!”
Maybe not–but they were pretty formative years.
What was so wonderful about this evening–aside from watching the sliver of moon rise over the Newport Back Bay–was that I am not the only one that’s survived 40 years after high school. No one’s in a position to judge anymore, and most of us wouldn’t remember the judgments if we did. Even the lonely clueless girls were welcomed, offered handshakes. For the two I’m thinking of, it’s amazing. They are so similar to who they were in high school that I would recognize them anywhere–quite surprising in a field of so many to whom I have to scrutinize their name tags and ask them to remind me again who they were.
Thank God for nametags! Even then there were some people I just didn’t remember. One poor girl joined our class in Southern California from North Carolina in her senior year. As she put it, she knew all of us, but I had to ask if the name on her nametag was her last name then. It was. Embarrassing!
And since my own memory verges on the sievelike, it was fair game to be a great conversationalist–asking questions. It was easy, quite fun actually, to hear how people’s lives took various turns. And because we all had this one little deep background fact in common, graduation from San Marino High School in 1970, there was a small amount of trust and commonness of background if nothing else, that made conversations lack the initial inertia that they have in singles bars, for example. (Though it’s been long time since I frequented those.)
And we also had the strong motivation to continue such superficial but entertaining conversations, since every single one of us would be equally bored, awkward, and out of place if we didn’t put the momentum in to get them going.
Every once in a while I would feel like I’d stepped through some kind of a time warp into some movie special effect field, something out of twilight zone or who knows what. Although almost no one looked like they did 40 years ago. I noticed that right away! The email invite that I got had some senior photos in it. Who WERE those dashingly handsome people? Did I ever know them? One of them has a mop of curly hair and is just as handsome and relatively youthful now–well done, Mark!
They all remembered me as the writer–I was the high school newspaper editor for two years, unusual since usually it was a job done by a senior and I did it both as a junior and a senior, and one person I encountered, the serious math brain with a megamath mind who became an actuary for 20 years but is now starting a career as an actress–remembered that I had been the editor of the junior high school newspaper as well. Wow! I guess I made an impression on her–it’s a long time since I remembered that myself. Hearing them speak about me as THE WRITER of the class was new information. I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing lately and really enjoying it, but I had put that identity aside for so long. It didn’t work that well when I was so young I had nothing to say. But if you’d asked me until 10 minutes ago, I never would have said that I was THE outstanding writer of the whole smart and talented class. Amazing what we fail to notice about ourselves.
How about you? What gifts, talents, abilities, and capacities do you have that you have ignored or minimized? Sharing my talent for relationships is why I’m putting my writing skills to work on this blog. I hope you enjoy it!
At previous reunions I had connected with some people I’d missed and longed to see. This was a smaller party than tomorrow night, but no one fit in that category. One woman, bless her, did rush over with a hug. Thank you thank you, Pam Lind (or was it Lynd?) for your kindness and generosity of spirit.