The last thing in this world I thought I would want to attend was my high school reunion. Which one you ask? I graduated from Narragansett High School in 1982, so if you stink at math like I did, I’ll help you out: it was my 30th.
This isn’t the first reunion I’ve attended; actually, it’s the second. My 20th was held in November 2002, and it was honestly one of the most memorable nights of my life. The fact that I had just given birth to our seventh child weeks earlier and was finally getting out of the house had absolutely nothing to do with it. (Although it didn’t hurt!) No, what really made an impression on me after that reunion were that all my preconceived notions about how horrible an experience it would probably be were completely ridiculous and instead I didn’t get home until nearly 4 a.m.!
I clearly remember walking into the Towers and pulling my husband aside for some last minute instructions.
“We will probably only be here for an hour tops. I’ll give you the ‘sign’ when I’ve had enough, and we’ll use the baby as an excuse to make our quick exit,” I ordered.
My husband, always eager to please, nodded and followed dutifully behind as we entered the room and I began scanning for anyone that I either recognized, or even better, hadn’t aged as well as I thought I had!
The 20th reunion was held the weekend after Thanksgiving and it actually snowed that year. Mother Nature earned a big gold star from me for that because that cold, snowy evening afforded me the post-partum luxury of wearing a long and cozy black velvet dress. It hid a multitude of sins so therefore I didn’t need my tried and true wonder girdle.
As I grabbed my photo name badge and began to pin it on one of my drooping, motherly breasts I got my first hug of the night from a classmate I had dated a few times. Once I heard him remark about how wonderful I looked (ok, maybe he just said hello) I immediately relaxed and literally forgot all my anxieties about how I had aged, what I had accomplished in the past 20 years, what kind of house I lived in, and whether or not I would know what to say to any of these 126 people I spent so many years of my youth with.
After we’d been there for a good four hours, my very patient husband pulled me aside and reminded me that we were supposed to fly the reunion coop more three hours prior. After all, we did have a newborn baby waiting at home and he hated to see me suffering a moment longer. I believe it was then that the reunion was actually wrapping up and everyone was headed across to the Coast Guard House. No way was I missing that, I was having too much fun answering questions about what it was like to have so many kids, and I was still not over my quota of Pinot Grigio for the evening.
I honestly hadn’t figured that I would add one more child to the mix between the 20th and 30th reunion, but I did. I also didn’t figure I’d still be living in my childhood home, but I am. Never figured I’d be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, but I was. Didn’t think I’d be an author or a full-time writer, but gratefully, that’s the case. Didn’t expect I’d still be crazy about Aerosmith, but still am. And didn’t honestly think I’d still be working on the last of my 20 extra baby pounds, and after seeing the latest post-reunion photos I definitely still have work to do! But what I really didn’t expect was to not pine for my younger school days but instead love the fact that I’m heading into my fifties.
Walking into my 30th reunion was hands down even better than the unforgettable entrance I made 10 years ago in that swanky, black velvet dress. I didn’t arrive as svelte as I’d have liked or having my best hair day, but I arrived comfortable— in my role as the mother of eight and soon-to-be wife of 25 years, as a writer, a so-so cook, a person who loves to laugh as often as possible, who will always enjoy Pinot Grigio, even if it comes in a box, and who someday will actually succeed in growing not killing a veggie garden. In other words, someone who is 98 percent comfortable in her own skin.
The beauty of any type of reunion is that once you get past all the pleasantries and perhaps awkward exchanges you’re left with a tremendous opportunity—the chance to reflect and connect with your past, appreciate your present and look forward with great anticipation to the future—and that, God willing, includes many more reunions.