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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reunions: Part Deux

Well, it came and went, my Jr. High Reunion.

And, I am happy to report that given the intense build-up and a little bit of drama pre-event (courtesy of nearly three months of threads on a Web page filled with witty, racy, and sometimes misinterpreted banter), it seems as though all of those in attendance had zero regrets about coming, in fact it was such a success that like an ending to a prolific sitcom like "Cheers,"  there are already spin-off reunions happening that I suspect will have the same kind of success...a la "Frasier."

The power of the Internet, and Facebook in particular, allowed us to reach about 350 people and the night brought together well over 100 of us, our tight little community from Santa Ana. 

Friends came from as far away as the East Coast and as near as the same city in which they reside.  We all gathered together to reminisce about our youth and catch up on the happenings of today.

I can honestly say that I was more than pleasantly surprised at how smooth the transition into comfortable conversations was after not seeing one another for the better part of 25 years.  Of course, some small groups of friends had kept in close contact but for the most part people had lost touch.  And once we were all in the same room together again, it felt like old times...literally.

Which begs the question; How much do we really change?  I mean of course we change, but do the people who knew us in our most awkward and challenging years, get over the stereotyping and labels we used to put on one another?  We are all guilty of it but I would hope that after over two decades, those pre-conceived ideas and notions about our fellow classmates would no longer exist, and I felt that for the most part, that was the case. 

I think that has a lot to do with the age we are now, most of us in our late 30's and early 40's are FINALLY comfortable in our own skin and I know that I strive to be the kind of person who stays away from both judgement and gossip...Mainly because when I act that way, I feel like complete shit.  I am not always successful and will find myself caught up in stories and rumors just like we all do but I can honestly say that this is one area that I am REALLY trying to be consistent, and I am REALLY trying to always look for the best in people.  I find that maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude helps me get through my days, especially in the world we live in.

I think navigating the halls of middle school while trying to navigate the horror of puberty and adolescence is a hairy (no pun intended) and complicated path to follow.  We are all walking around, completely insecure and worried about every minute detail of our appearance and status, and we are so consumed by these thoughts that we forget to have fun and laugh.  Friendships we had as children were fractured and broken once we entered the halls of Jr. High. 

Now, as adults we can finally see all of the wonderful qualities our fellow classmates have, without the same kind of baggage that we carried around during those painfully emotional teenage years. 

Now we can relate to each other on so many levels, as parents of kids and teenagers, and we can see ourselves as friends and allies. 

Now we can appreciate our differences and respect them.

I can say this, I was a very different girl back then.  I was struggling with my own demons and even though I might have appeared to have had it all together, I learned how to be a pretty good actress.  Now, that 25 years has passed, I am not afraid to be myself, take it or leave it.  I am not afraid to smile, laugh and act like a complete goofball.  I am not afraid to be friends with the underdog or to speak my mind.  I am finally in a place where I can be my true self and for that I am eternally grateful.

Coming away from this reunion, I felt a renewed sense about my childhood and teenage years.  It gave me reassurance that as I watch my own children begin to navigate the world of youth and adolescence, I am hoping that they too, will walk away relatively unscathed...or at least with minor emotional scars. Those wounds come with experiences and friendships that will help shape and define their lives in more ways than they know and although I would not want to go back to that time in my life, I feel confident that I can help them realize that "this too, shall pass" in times of sorrow and struggle.  I can also remind them to cherish the moments laughter and joy in childhood, because we all know they are fleeting.

And once again, this blog is dedicated to my dear old friends and classmates from Willard Jr. High in Santa Ana...

Until we meet again,

Cheers!




 

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