Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I’ve received a third informational notice of my upcoming high school reunion next summer. I have an abundance of mixed feelings about reunions. My lingering query about this tradition is: How well can you reunite people who aren’t the same people as they were all those years ago? I mean, are any of us what we were in high school? I don’t even know that bouncy long-haired cheerleader whose picture I see in my yearbook. She knew no angst, she didn’t have enough courage to reach out to the “unpopular” kids, she was always arguing with her brother, she had no direction for her future career. Would I even choose to be friends with her now? I don’t know that I would.

I am not her anymore. I have journeyed through pain and joy and frustration and crisis and excitement and contentment and fear……only to find that the real me was created on that long journey…… and that today’s Mary has very little resemblance to the high school Mary.

I find that reunions place us at the corner of ignorance and wisdom. Balancing an image of who we were….. ignorant about most everything in life.....with the wisdom that we have hopefully accumulated along the way. What are we supposed to do at that intersection? Chinese fire drills?

Now I am not a stick-in-the-mud, and enjoy seeing old friends as much as the next person. I had a wonderful 4 years of high school and had great friends. Reunions present genuine laughter over teachers, pranks, and what-we-got-away-with-then. But all of that eventually feels trite at these two-day events.  I tire of small talk, and reunions have an abundance of that. I don’t drink, so I don’t gravitate to the bar to ham it up with the scotch-and-water set. I don’t golf, so I can’t waste a few hours with pals on the back nine.

I guess I just feel so much of it is shallow. At my last couple reunions, I felt a real lack of transparency amongst classmates. I had heard about others’ broken marriages, rebellious kids, sick parents, bankruptcies, job losses and stillborn babies. But in conversation with those very people, they steer clear of those topics. Why do people feel they need to put on the my-world-is-perfect face? I do not think any of us escaped the hallowed halls and lived out Camelot. But people don’t really want to talk about their lives.

Classmates generally want to know facts about you. I care more about what and Who made me who I am today. But that’s not what reunions are for. They are still for chitchat and random memory-sharing. Struggle, faith, heartache and God are not the topics floating around the banquet tables.

If faith is the river that took me from the halls of Jamestown High School to being a middle-aged wife and mom with lung cancer, then my faith is the most profound part of my voyage. And the river’s meandering that brought me to this place and time is the very stuff of my life. Other than my closest friends (who already know), nobody else really cares about that.

I just don’t care if my old classmates know where I now live or what I do for a living or how many kids I have. I would rather share with people how I’ve faced…. sometimes successfully and sometimes not…….my life’s giants since graduation day, and how, with God’s grace and mercy, I am finally the me I was meant to be all those years ago.

For lots of people, the surface level enjoyment of seeing old faces is enough to make the two-day trip worthwhile and satisfy their curiosities about others. I may just stay home and let them all remember the happy-go-lucky 18-year-old Mary, the Mary that came into her own when real life started to happen and she got on for the ride.


Colleen K said...

Myself...I hear much truth and sense in your post (from me who probably missed the last two reunions)... but Mary, I am so looking forward to next July when we reconnect in person!!!!!!!!!

Risa said...

Hey Mary,
Wow, you put into words what I've been feeling about my high school reunions. I've never been able to say it as eloquently as you did, though. I'm pretty sure I don't want to reunite with who I was in high school. Makes me cringe.
Still reading all your posts . . .