Memories of Our School Days

High School Reunions
Credit: Pixabay

How you respond to attending your high school reunion, will often depend on your personality, your personal experiences, and where you sat in the school pecking order. However, for almost everyone, a school reunion will be an overwhelming occasion, which will simultaneously blow the mind, induce nostalgia, and make us think about how our life could have turned out differently.

These days, of course, school reunions have changed; as with the coming of Facebook, many of us are already connected with our former school mates' on social media, and so, we probably know what these people are up to, and how their lives turned out. But, in reality, social media often has the effect of forcing people to project their best image; their smiling, happy photos, and successful life. At the reunion, as the night wears on and the alcohol flows, this image often cracks.

But these cracks can reveal the real and complex person underneath the façade. The person you remember, with all their faults and eccentricities; the one who you can connect to authentically, and who will really stir your memories of times past.

One result stemming from school reunions, and old school friends' connecting on social media, is the propensity for people to get back together with their teenage loves. The reason for this often lies in our teen experiences, when the world was new for us, when our brains were rewiring and bent on: pleasure, risk, and making things happen. Afterwards, when we settle down to the mundane life on the job treadmill and needing to pay our bills, no relationship may feel quite as alive or intense. And this is the danger, as the urge to reconnect with old flames' can come at the cost of marriages and families.

After Many a Year

Those were the days.
Credit: Richard Burdett (Wikipedia)

Lots of Surprises

When you arrive at the reunion, it may come as a shock that, some people that you knew when you were young, have changed so much that, they are unrecognizable. That girl or guy who was always overweight, may now be a slim, trim fitness guru; the slim and good looking young person you remember, may likewise, be an overweight person, or completely altered in other ways. And these changes can leave you reflecting on your own bodily journey, in a variety of ways.

I remember how surprised I was, at one of my high school reunions, to find out that, one student who left school at fifteen to become a hairdresser, was now an academic. And, the school Dux, was finding it extremely difficult to find work. The success and troubles of these people that, we once knew so well, generally causes us to reflect upon ourselves, and how we may have missed opportunities, been disappointed, or perhaps, been extremely lucky. This may lead to schadenfreude or regret.

One thing that can be very interesting about school reunions and people reconnecting on social media, is how former enemies can suddenly become almost instant friends; like all that cruelty and meanness just got washed under the bridge. Sometimes this may be because people have changed and want to move past the mistakes and petty behaviors of their past; but in some cases, there seems to be a bit of sycophantic behavior involved. That is, people who were bottom of the pecking order in the old days, will grab any chance to be up with the in-crowd: even if its twenty years later and they have to swallow all the hurt, and feelings of being marginalized, or having suffered injustice.

At your reunion, you may also meet old school chums, who have been fast friends ever since their school days. You may marvel at their comfortable, long and close relationships and wish that, you too, had been able to forge friendships so strong, and well wearing. But perhaps you may also recognize that, everyone’s personality, life journey and friendships are different, and you simply took a different path through life, while others' may have stayed in comfortable, familiar groves.

One of the hardest things about going to reunions, is that, some old friends are no longer with us. Some will have died young from illness, and others, in other tragic situations. This loss can hit hard, especially, as we may recall these people so vividly. And the fact that those lost to us, can be so alive in our mind, and yet not with us, can be devastating. But it can also help to reconnect with others' who remember these lost friends too, as they were in the old days, when we were young.

However, whilst you are remembering others' and reliving the past, you may also be shocked that some people will remember stories and happenings about you that, you don’t remember, or would sooner forget. Like that time you wet your pants in the library, or got drunk at a party in junior high. Sometimes, these reminders of our old selves, can be very uncomfortable, or disturbing.

For other people, who were bullied and felt like outsiders' at school, school reunions can evoke bitter memories and amazement that, the school experience, which was a torture for you, maybe for someone else, the best days of their life. The good thing, though, is that after the reunion, you can escape back to your life again. And you don’t have to go next time is you don’t want to.

But, then again, you might find that, going to your reunion is like slipping on an old comfortable shoe, or perhaps, you experience a cleansing catharsis. Of course, there is a possibility that, you might really enjoy yourself!

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Years From Now: the Reunion
Credit: Me

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