Quick, Catherine! Thoughts!
At this particular luncheon, I saw many old friends and acquaintances, each for approximately a few minutes. Anyhow, it wasn’t nearly enough time to sit down and have a thorough catching up session or a heart-to-heart. We just smiled at each other and wished each other the best.
I’ve noticed that many people look like they’ve changed. But why? I’ll never know. Maybe our high school culture forced them to repress aspects of their personalities, or perhaps they found different (better) people where they ended up.
She started filling in her eyebrows. He started wearing skinny jeans. She cut her hair, he grew his out.
Yet we’ve all only been apart for a few months! I can’t imagine what the earlier graduating classes feel when they see each other. Just like old times? or I don’t even know you anymore?
Driving onto campus as an alumni vs. student is a very different sensation. As a graduate, I remember mainly positive things, most likely a reaction to the honing and pruning that the school goes through to prepare for alumni events. I remember one year I witnessed someone spray painting the pine straw brown. BROWN!
Anyhow, they go all out. They prepare delicious food, clean up the campus, and have slideshows of happy, smiling alumni playing on repeat.
Thinking back to my class of 200 or so, I now consider us to have been more conglomerated rather than close-knit. As a class, we had similar goals and comparable course loads, which bred competition.
Now, it’s like, how can an electrical engineering major compete with a history major? You can’t. Our lives are headed in completely different directions.
You’re shooting for grad school, while she considers going straight out of college to work with a non-profit.
Without this sense of competition creating tension, we are more likely to support each other.
One of the happiest moments was seeing some of my old teachers. I gave my 10th grade English teacher a huge hug and an enthusiastic high five. I have him to thank for encouraging me to be more expressive with my writing and to speak up in class discussions.
I saw my history teacher from senior year, and had a great chat with him. I love this man; he is a fantastic lecturer and has a very witty sense of humor. I had the opportunity to see him in the fall at a debate tournament, outside of the high school environment.
And finally, I reunited with my beloved college counselor, who I owe the world. This woman kept me level and focused in my senior year when I was having all sorts of issues. She is so short and spunky, and helped me get my life into perspective.
Moreover, seeing old friends, and seeing how they’ve changed in appearance and attitude makes you feel a bit strange inside. Since moving on from high school, they seem happier, and have evidently found new friends. You know that as great of friends you might have been in high school, the ones who will end up as maids of honor and best men at their wedding will more likely be people they meet in college than yourself.
But when you’re back at college in a few weeks, you’ll look around at your new friends and smile happily, certain that for you and for everyone else, no matter what happens, everything will work out in the end.
Because if there’s anything that anyone should take away from all of this, it’s that high school is just a phase. That community is not representative of what the rest of the people in this world are like. It can and will get better.
For myself, the university where I wound up is populated by a larger, more diverse, and more accepting group of people who were eager to welcome who I really am.
And for the first time in a while, my shoulders are relaxed, because they were tense from having been braced for so long before. I have let out a breath that I hadn’t even realized I was holding.