Two weeks ago, I attended my 25th high school reunion party. We were a small class, under 150 people, but the attendance at this event was really, really small – only about 15 of us. Plus one person who was at the restaurant with his wife coincidentally and had no idea there was a reunion. So many people who I know still live in Western New York didn’t show up, and I was definitely the only out-of-towner there. Maybe it’s COVID fear lingering, maybe it’s a general lack of interest, who knows. The only reason I was there was because the timing was perfect – I needed to be back at my parents’ house to pick up all the boxes and suitcases I’d left at their place when I went to South America last year.

But regardless, I still had a great time. These people were a huge part of my life for twelve years, twelve of the most formative. I was genuinely curious to see what they were all up to. Despite my small class, I didn’t recognize the one man who showed up. As soon as people said his name, I saw it in his face, but I never would have recognized him on my own. I also never would have recognized the guy who was sitting outside with his wife until someone told me who he was. But I knew all the women right away. We look the same – young and beautiful! It was so nice to see them all healthy and happy and doing really well. Everyone had kids, just about everyone was divorced (some re-partnered and some not), and everyone seemed to be successful and well-established in careers they like, as we should be in our 40s.

One of my favorite parts of the evening was when someone broke out a time capsule that I didn’t know existed. It was full of photo albums, choral and band performance programs, our old favorite snack foods, cassette tapes (Bon Jovi and Weezer!), and all kinds of “treasures.” Some of my old classmates who didn’t show up had put sealed envelopes in there. We thought about opening them but decided not to. Maybe at our 50th reunion.

The time capsule also held our old amateur publications from middle school creative writing club. My writing was so cringeworthy, as was going by Jenny. Which also at times was Jenni and Jennie. Don’t even try to call me that now.

What I thought I was going to be at 25 – as I described in our publication for our middle-to-high school moving up party – is even funnier! Or would be funny if so many 25-year-old college graduates today weren’t actually stuck with no better prospects than Burger King.

The other big highlight was the conversations – of course! For example, one classmate I talked to said how much she hated high school and didn’t relate to anymore. This was so strange to me because she was so stylish and cool and on student council, which in my school, was all popular kids. But apparently she really hated school – so much so that she almost didn’t graduate because she skipped so many days senior year. I wouldn’t have realized this because I hardly went senior year either, but I had a sanctioned half day because I had a lot of credits already. At this age, I wonder if I had known that at the time would we have related better to each other? Would we have become close friends over this shared desire to move on to adulthood more quickly? Who knows.

Another classmate I talked to who I remember as being part of the stoner crew has done really well for herself. She’s got a great career and I immensely enjoyed talking to her. She seems like a very empathetic person and someone I’d want to be adult friends with if I lived here. I’m so happy for her that her life turned out well. She said that it was working in the high school office that saved her. She helped out with copies and filing and little tasks, and the staff there were really kind to her and believed in her and told her she could do better than the crew she rolled with. Later in life, when she went back to visit, the Assistant Principal still had a photo hanging in the office that she had given him of her and all her friends at prom. I loved that story.

And I will be going back at the 40 and 50 year mark for more hugs and well-wishes.

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