Ten years have passed, as years often will, and I got an invitation to my high school reunion. It was a message in a bottle, sent to the wrong address, crushed in the mail, appropriate. It took a corkscrew to open the bottle, and inside was sand and shells and the invitation.
Ten years have passed, and I have just experienced a most bizarre weekend. Old memories dredged back to the surface, names and faces I can just barely recall. Ten years ago I was a different person, as were many of my classmates with whom, this weekend, I have had Relationship Take-2.
The guys had mostly become wider and balder, the girls more or less the same. I surely offended more than one person by completely forgetting their name, further evidence, I suppose, of a life left far behind. Two comments followed me throughout the evening - one, "This is more than I've ever heard you talk before! You were really shy in high school." Can you believe there are still people in the world who think I'm a quiet person? And two, "Dang, Kt's a hottie. If you had looked like that in high school, I would have totally hit on you. Is there an award for most improved?" What does one say to such a compliment? Yes, a dorky appearance is the natural defense God gives His beloved to protect them from inadvisable high school relationships (with jerks), thank you very much. People grow up. Oh, the things I would have changed ten years ago!
The corkscrew for the invitation was a good indicator for the weekend, because both main events involved unchecked drinking. Very strange to see former high schoolers get drunk, especially with ex-cops and ex-teachers mixing into the crowd. By the end of the first night, the drunkest of nights, the crowd was conveniently thinned into people who have changed impressively - who were still sober enough for conversation - and the people spilling drinks on the carpet. I caught up with the latter the next day, when they were much more subdued.
Saturday night was our grand luau, not bad for a party of haoles. (Drinks in coconuts. Mine a virgin and extra large, since "No one else wants a virgin," quoth the bartender. DD's forever!) I couldn't make much ground on our class questionnaire - Do you have kids? How many kids? Are you pregnant? Are you married? Are you engaged? ("How about a prize for Least Attached?" I shouted.) But I did take home the prize for Travelled Farthest From Home, which was good and well deserved, since no one in our class is an astronaut yet.
I shall always remember our reunion as shouting at each other over the top of music, random hugging and high-fiving and dancing. My voice was raw from the shouting and the smoke, and I slept poorly in the aftermath, mulling over familiar faces saying such unfamiliar things. The camaraderie, the stunned frozen moments, like our class had been thrown in the middle of the highway all at once with a blinding semi-truck of Change bearing down on us.
I love the changes. I love being able to look through my yearbook now and add on those final memories. The jerks have disappeared. My high school persona is laid to rest. Words that have been left unspoken for ten years, confessions and new revelations, and above all, that elusive sense of finality to a turbulent time. I close the book and move on, smiling.