Thirteen things I learned at my 20-year reunion.

1. I am old.
I’ve been home for 4 days and I’m still exhausted. A delicate 38-year-old simply can’t bounce back from football games, picnics, bonfires, and general debauchery with the same aplomb she had at 18.

2. As God as my witness, I’ll never plan another reunion again.
I don’t live in town. I haven’t lived in my hometown for, oh, 20 years. And yet, BFF and I have had a hand in planning each of the last 3 class reunions. This time around, BFF was in the process of moving back to the states from freakin’ Latvia. Oh, and we had a classmate/committee member who wouldn’t respond to any messages or help do any work, but would perkily pop up as soon as it was time to take credit or tell us what we could have done better.

3. It’s good to have backup.
BFF’s dad offered to drive the getaway car, should we murder said perky classmate. He’s a skilled driver – I’ve seen him back a camper. I knew that worst-case scenario, I would be in good hands. It helped me sleep better.

4. Reunions are no place for plotting murder.
No. Reunions are for appreciating the good, good people who shared your childhood. It just takes a little while to get to this realization.

5. Reunions have a few phases.
Phase 1: Who the hell are these old people?
Phase 2: I used to know someone who looked kind of like that, but thinner.
Phase 3: So that’s who that is!
Phase 4: I’m old and fat, too!
Phase 5: Let’s be old and fat together, and talk about when we were kids!

I may be oversimplifying somewhat.

6. I grew up with good, kind, decent folks.
Truly. I’m humbled, and so, so thankful.

7. If you need someone to organize your reunion picnic, call my mom.
Seriously. She made the sign, the pasta salad, the brownies, and the iced tea. Also, she’s the one who made sure I had name tags and extra serving spoons – because you know folks will remember a potluck dish but often forget a spoon. She was right. Also, her on-the-ball-ness further showcased just how inept (or, perhaps completely over it) I am when it comes to planning reunions. I much prefer to just show up.

8. By the time you’ve been out of school for 20 years, you can be authentic.
This means conversations about mistakes and regrets with no judgment. I openly admitted that the idea of planning another reunion made me want to flip the bird. And when 1 woman sheepishly admitted that her sister was a welfare mooch, another offered that her brother was living in a shelter with no desire to find a job. We’re all just people.

9. Stop trying to impress people. It isn’t working, anyway.
If you’re trying to look all suave in front of people who remember when you peed your pants in 2nd grade? You’re dumb. We don’t give a shit about your 4-carat diamond. We remember your wet pants. And if you’d joke about it and own it, we’d love you.

10. Childhood memories are products of child brains.
I learned this weekend that a classmate who terrified me in junior high came from the worst of bad home situations. Junior-high me couldn’t understand why she was so mean; adult me wants to go back in time and help the smart, scared girl who was mean because it was her only line of defense.

11. It’s a privilege to see how people grow.
That mean, scared girl is now 1 of the most positive, empowered women I’ve ever met. I wouldn’t have missed catching up with her for anything.

12. Some friendships go on hiatus, and that’s OK.
In the last year, I’ve reconnected with a handful of good school pals. Sure, we’ve been out of touch. But the timing for reconnecting is perfect – they’ve come back into my life just when I needed them.

13. You are a part of every place and every person you encounter.
One of my best friends moved away after 8th grade. She attended this reunion, expecting that no one would remember her. Boy, was she wrong! She was flabbergasted that most folks remembered her, even without a name tag. Not only that, but they remembered her with love. She was still with them as the funny, kind girl from school. We never know who we impact.

Go to your reunion. Listen. Pay attention. It’s a great place to learn about yourself and where you come from.

Also? Call my mom. She’ll get you organized.

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  • Reply Heather Nelson October 3, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    Do I have to blog about this, or can I just refer people here? 🙂

    Good to see you, and you (and your mom and others) did a great job.

  • Reply Holly @ The Grass is Always Greener October 3, 2013 at 12:41 am

    My 20 year reunion is next year. We've started planning it and already I want to just hide my head in the sand and pretend it isn't happening. I am tired of looking at hold pictures, with awful hair, I'm tired of people I don't remember contacting me on facebook to tell me how great it is to see me. ughhhhh

  • Reply Cassi Renee October 3, 2013 at 1:29 am

    I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that you had a 20 year reunion (I'm assuming high school reunion) and you knew those same people in grade school.

    My high school graduating class was about 700. Most of the people I knew in high school I had never met earlier because we all went to different elementary and junior high schools. I've perused a FB group for my 30 year high school reunion and I honestly only remember about 2 people who attended. I don't even remember the names! Nothing comes to me when I read these names.

    I don't know if it's the size of the school or the passage of time, but none of those people mean anything to me any more.

  • Reply Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect October 3, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Great post – and sounds like a fun weekend! My 20 year is in a few years, and I have high hopes for learning lots of the same lessons you wrote about.

  • Reply Becky October 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I went to my 20th – I was the youngest person there by 5 years.
    I was sort blown away at how so many of them still clung to hs stuff. Needless to say, I sat out my 25th. I think it's just symptom of the town I grew up in though.

  • Reply smalltownme October 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I've gone to all our reunions (10, 20, 25 and 30 — egad!). Of course, I still live in the same town so I don't have to travel more than a couple blocks!

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin October 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Three cheers for your awesome mama!
    I went to my 20 year and found the same thing–people were mostly fatter, balder and nicer than I had remembered. It was a good time. (It may have been beneficial to skip all the previous reunions as I did)

  • Reply Gary's third pottery blog October 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Nah, I am pretty glad to leave all that sh!t behind. I am not really a reunion type of guy at all, esp. since it is easy to keep up with those I want to on FB etc 🙂

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) October 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Your mama deserves a medal. Heck, YOU deserve a medal! (You didn't kill the classmate? Make it a gold medal!)

    Number 8 was my 20-year reunion epiphany. Number 30 is next year and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully dementia won't have set it too firmly and I'll be able to remember people.

  • Reply Sarah Almond October 17, 2013 at 3:16 am

    I'm just now seeing your post, because I'm always late. I learned things at that reunion too, and it wasn't even mine! I learned about toes, and that no one will notice if they are yours and they are unpretty. 😉 That reunion was definitely much better than Ghost Rider 2.

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