Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ten Years in the Making

I was doing so well on the blog updates, then I went out of town again. This week the motivation's back to write, so let's see how it goes....

Back to June. My 10-year high school reunion had been in the works for awhile, first with a MySpace page announcement months ago, then finally a letter in the mail with a schedule of events and a registration form.

I'd already had my plane ticket booked for weeks when the letter arrived. I couldn't wait to go.

I had talked with many other friends about summer plans; everyone had heard about their own 10-year reunions, mentioned how they weren't going or didn't go and almost couldn't believe that I would go and that I was looking forward to it.


I found this puzzling. How could they not go?! But maybe my high school experience was a little different?

I grew up in a small Oklahoma town with a population of 8,000, according to the 2000 census. Most my classmates, me included, couldn't wait to get out of school and get on with our lives. I probably jumped the farthest distance after graduation and never really looked back. Sure, I went home at Christmas, but spent most summers in DC. Since moving to AZ, my parents visit here often and I've had little reason to travel back to good ole Poteau.

I did go home for Christmas in 2008, first time I'd been there in over 2 years. I'd lost touch with most people and spent the few holiday days with my parents and dog, not really venturing out to close the gaps with old friends who are still there.

This trip would be different. I finally had the chance to see people I hadn't seen in 10 years. Who I lost touch with because we didn't have cell phones and email addresses and Facebook when we parted ways. There were only 96 of us in my graduating class. My town is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. And maybe there are a few little cliques, but for the most part, we were truly all friends and got along. We'd been through many good times together, not just as a class, but as an entire high school.

I have very much come to appreciate this existence that I had. I wasn't just a nameless face in a class of 900 people, attempting to go to a reunion, find the 4 people from high school I still talk to, and ditch the official events for my own personal reunion. I couldn't wait to see anyone and everyone who showed up. I had no fear of forgetting names or faces - it's just so easy when you all knew each other and still do.

I think it was especially comforting, coming from my current town where most of my friends have known me less than 2 years, going back to a place where people have known me for much longer. And it doesn't matter than we haven't spoken for 10 years or what we've done since then; we've got enough shared experiences -- key teenage years shared experiences -- to allow us to pick up right where we left off, albeit with spouses and children in tow. Something about that was really great for me.

I'll tell you I loved every minute of the reunion weekend.
I was a little nervous that first night, hopping into my mom's car and driving up Wolf Mountain to the opening event, wondering how it would play out. Who'd be there? Who knew I was coming? Would I be the outsider who left and never came back? I was slightly apprehensive for nothing - everyone was greeted with open arms. It seems we haven't aged a bit. It was impossible to vote for the "Most Changed" as there were no drastic apprearance or character skews in the last decade.We spent Friday night together at the golf course clubhouse catching up, meeting spouses, trading stories, then afterparty at Jake's, like usual, except with his small daughter in bed and very pregnant wife making sure we were fine until all hours of the morning. Saturday was a lazy morning pool party at the Coopers, like usual, until it was time for the banquet at the Kerr Mansion.
We all dressed up and arrived there, just as we had 10 years before for our Senior Banquet. We voted again on class awards (I won most traveled, big surprise) and watched our old Senior video. The party started to wind down at midnight, but a few of us stayed late into the night, watching the lightning storm through the huge banquet room windows, dancing, laughing, and eventually using a trashcan roller wheel gadget to push each other down long hallways. I won't mention how much alcohol had been consumed by some at that point, but new memories were certainly created.
Thankfully I was able to stay in Oklahoma all week and work remotely, since I had to travel to Chicago the following weekend for a wedding. I spent the rest of the week hanging out with high school friends who are still in town (who are now running an Insurance agency, selling cars, working at the hospital) and am grateful that I've made those connections again. Going back home will be more fun now that I can have a different lunch date every day of the week!

Late last year my dad completed construction on his new office space, so please, step into my office.....
I spent a few days out at our blueberry farm - it's blueberry season! The farm was open 2-3 times a week this summer, for people to come and pick their own berries. It's fun to watch people pull up, grab their buckets, pet the dog, then head out in search of fresh berries for muffins or cereal or whatever else you want to throw them into. (Sidenote, the dog was too spoiled to walk down to the pond when she got too hot, so I had to DRIVE her. Yes, ridiculous).
After cooling off in the pond, Honey likes to go snoop for her own berries, preferring the blackberries over the blueberries.

My pretty town, home of the World's Highest Hill.


nerak said...

I still can't get over that your parents have a BLUEBERRY farm. Amazing.

Crystal said...

Your reunion sounds so fun. Mine totally sucked - hardly any of my friends actually showed up and we just had one dinner. I am jealous!

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