I had an amazing outfit for my fifteenth year college reunion last weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to wear it.
I had attended my fifth, which was a blur of alcohol and lobster bakes, as well as my tenth, which was centered around the child care tent. Yet, I had a prior engagement which kept me from the ol’ campus last Saturday.
All night, I wondered what was happening on Mayflower Hill. And I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t miss my twentieth.
When you’re young, you don’t go to reunions to see your friends.You go to see the people who were your acquaintances (i.e. the hot guy from chem lab, the know-it-all on the field hockey team, the valedictorian-turned-Vegas showgirl). Yet, as you get older, you don’t remember the acquaintances, so you go to remember your friends. You go to drink copious amounts of wine with your old roommates while explaining to their husbands the little things that you remember. You go to remember the smell of your ex (a blend of peppermint gum and Ivory soap), who still carries Tic-Tacs in his pocket. You go to hold on to the things that have been slipping away.
I spent a week at my parents’ home earlier this month, cleaning out my childhood bedroom. I uncovered all of my old yearbooks from middle school, high school and college, and grabbed one at random to flip through before bed. It was my 1996 junior year of high school yearbook, covered in smudged signatures making predictions which would be proved wrong. (“Never forget Smack-N-Cheese!” I forgot. But I’m sure it was unforgettable at the time). I read the yearbook from cover to cover, slowly reintroducing myself to a tribe of faces who were the wallpaper of my teenage years.
In high school, we looked toward the future with the same desperation that today we use to cling to the past. We wanted to be prettier. Now, we wish we were that pretty. We wanted to have a family. Now, we miss our parents and grandparents who attended our soccer games. We were filled with angst to be something more. Now, we are filled with regret for not becoming more.
For some of us, those years might have been golden. For others, the worst of our lives. Yet, for all of us, time rolled by. We lost classmates to war. We lost classmates to drugs. We lost classmates to tragedy. And we lost many of our memories.
And that’s why we attend reunions every so many years.To eat buffet dinners and clink glasses and wear nametags as we make our best effort to remember. And to wear a darn good outfit.