from the Past!
If there is one word I can use to best describe my 20 year high
school reunion, I would choose “surreal”. I’m writing this in the Surrey
passport office, another surreal experience…but more about that later.
confess, I was nervous. I’ve kept in touch with only a handful of friends from
high school, and even those people I’ve not seen nor spoken to in ten years or
more. A few emails have been exchanged, averaging ten lines apiece, but that’s
about it. 200 hundred or so folks from my 700-plus graduating class were
scheduled to attend the big event but which 200? Would I even know anyone?
Would I spend the evening in my fancy dress and strappy shoes circling the
buffet table like a hungry barracuda, desperate and alone?
two blissful-yet-short days at Casa Roney in Port Coquitlam, Prez and I trekked
over to the Coast Hotel in Langley; the reunion would be in the casino next
door. We took advantage of the quiet time, (and the king bed….wink, wink), by
ordering vastly overpriced room service food and watching pay-per-view movies –
a luxury we only allow ourselves about once per year. It was good to see that
our knack for creating apocalyptic-type messes in hotel rooms is still alive
first reunion dilemma is, of course, what to wear. This isn’t usually an issue
with me. I’m not the type who calls a friend with the familiar question, “What
are you wearing?”, my attitude being I’m going to wear whatever I darn
well want. But this event seemed to drag to the surface all of those teenage
social insecurities. When it was time to pack for the trip, I still hadn’t
decided how dressy, or not, I wanted to be for the reunion. I wanted to look
good, but not like I was showing off, and there was always dancing to consider.
Arrgh! My solution? Over-packing. I just brought every outfit I might
conceivably want to wear, much to Prez’s chagrin. Friday night at the Roney’s
was a pre-reunion fashion show of sorts with me modeling all of the potential
candidates. “Too dressy. Too plain. That one makes your breasts look nice
but it bunches at the hips. Ooooo, that one’s nice. Nope, no slacks, you must
wear a dress.” Those were just a few of the comments from my personal style
my outfit choices narrowed to two, and my belly bursting with the $14 prime rib
burger I’d snarfed back while watching Spiderman 3, I was ready for a little
nappy-poo to compensate for the late-night, drinking, laughing, Contract Rummy
evening with Martha & Patty-Cakes. Sure. As if the butterflies in my
stomach were going to let me sleep.
7pm arrived. I was bathed, fragranced, made-up, coiffed, and tucked into outfit
choice #1 – the blue, sparkly, cocktail number. Prez had on one of his nicest
Hawaiian shirts. And off we went!
a crowd of near-forty-year-olds clustered outside the Red Robinson Theater, all
surreptitiously glancing from face to face…this must be it. (Note: The sucky
thing about grad reunions is it is very difficult to lie about your age). “See
anyone you know yet?” Prez asked. No, I didn’t, and my worst fears seemed
about to come true until…
Kris!” A call came from the far end of the line. I saw a man. It
was…um…hold on…oh yes, now I know! It was Kurt, one of my very dearest friends
from ‘back in the day’, (as they say). WHEW! All my butterflies buggered off,
(probably to go play blackjack), as the hugs and introductions began.
after familiar face appeared, it was actually quite cool. I was happy, though,
when we all finally had name tags, despite the fact that we spent the evening
staring at each other’s chests. (Note to the 25th reunion grad
committee: use bigger print; a 48 point font would be good for our aging
eyes!). Mike S. had a new (and lovely) wife; Kurt was still with Karen (lucky
guy) but now has three ankle-biters; Leanne K. was pregnant and Vanessa S. was
very, very pregnant; Kristin V still had that Audrey Hepburn thing going on;
Tanya S. made me laugh just as hard as she always did; Pat L. continues to live
the acting-singing-dancing dream (the one I once thought was my dream); Darren
M. looked dapper; etc. etc. So many old faces, old memories.
these events are not so exciting for the spouses. Prez’s name tag didn’t even
have his name on it. For that evening he was known as “Guest of…” I made
it very clear to him I would not be offended if he wanted to sneak away and
play some poker or something. In turn, he made it very clear to me that I was
not to worry about him at all for the entire evening, (isn’t he the best?).
And, every time I glanced over at our table I saw he was busy talking the ears
off of the other Guest of’s. I noticed a few other Guest of’s who
were not so lucky, they were easy to spot, sitting alone, with a ‘for the
love of god, please shoot me’ look on their face. (Note: If you have a
spouse or significant other who isn’t skilled at striking up 3 hour long
conversations with complete strangers, don’t bring them to your reunion!)
all, the event was well put together; no easy feat, I am sure. The food was yummy
though I ate very little, preferring my nourishment on the rocks, with a twist.
(Mmmmmm, except for the chocolate fountain…must get chocolate fountain!)
I think I would have put out bowls of throat lozenges, though, as the talk was
almost non-stop, and once the DJ started we were all shouting to be heard.
were four of us there that evening who have known each other since
kindergarten, which was really neat. We speculated on old classmate’s
whereabouts and lamented the decline of our old neighbourhood which has sunk
from suburban-quaint to near-slum level.
to several of my old school chums, I was much cooler in high school than I ever
thought I was. Always nice to hear. My favorite comment of the evening came
from Pat L., “Honey, you were chic before any of us knew what chic was!”
I think I’ll pay him to follow me around for the rest of my life.
struck me most, however, was the sense of, in the big picture, how temporary
things are. The old battle lines were gone. And why were they even there to
begin with? I wasn’t in a room full of Jocks, Nerds, Rockers, Punks, New
Wavers, Preppies, Stoners, and Wannabes; I was in a room full of people…just
people. All the stuff we thought was so critical back then has been swept away
over twenty years of trying to survive the “real world”. We’ve been through
marriage, divorce, death, children, university, poverty, riches, successful
careers, failed careers, war, booms, busts, finding faith, losing faith, and
the never-ending quest to figure out “Who am I?” And while I’m sure not
everyone in that room is living happily ever after, there was a tangible sense
of peace, of acceptance. There wasn’t a person at the reunion I wasn’t happy to
see; if only our school years could have been the same.
Ah, if only
the passport process could be that happy.
digress, as usual.
the night was fun. Prez and I ducked out late in the evening. My voice was
going, my feet hurt, and my ears couldn’t take any more of that loud rock and
roll music! (I’m kidding about that last part, just preparing myself for
seniorhood). We are now at the Kozak Mansion where we shall be stuffed full of
food, each dish containing no less than 47 ingredients, while we watch “AbFab”
episodes on the giant, Hi-def screen of Tweeter’s home theater. Yep, life’s
for the whole passport thing.
it’s time for yet another venture into the world of bureaucracy! Thanks to our
good buddy George Dubya insisting that us wiley Canucks now have passports when
we cross the border to go buy our cheap milk and cigarettes, the usual long
line ups at the passport office have mushroomed and now resemble the old bread
line-ups of communist Russia. Friday we showed up around 9:30 am to find the
line outside the building, snaked around the corner!!! We stood there for about
4.7 seconds before we said, “Forget this!” and decided to come back
Monday first thing.
just before 7am, we were ready with our fold out chairs, Tim Horton’s coffee,
and various entertainment items. There was already a substantial line up when
we arrived! Two and a half hours later, we were done. Prez likes to rant and
rave about the government, the bureaucracy, the inefficiency and, yes, it burns
my toast, too, but I’m a little more philosophical about the whole deal.
the world as a big high school, because that’s how we behave. Some countries
are bullies, some are nerds, some just keep their heads down and hope no one
notices them. We’re all squabbling and fighting over things we think are really
important and missing the big picture. I hope one day we all grow up. I hope
there’s some sort of “world reunion” where we can all see one another, not as
Canadians, Americans, Iraqis, Mexicans, French, English, Muslims, Christians,
etc., but as people…just people. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful event?
but what would I wear?
How was your reunion?
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, & lovin’ life!