I find myself on the eve of my 20 year high school reunion, staring at a beautifully composed and formatted invitation and memory book questionnaire, looking back and wondering, “Where did the time go?”
More importantly, I guess, where did that 18-year-old kid in all these pictures run off to? The kid with all the hair (many follicular scholars have opined that I was sporting a mullet in 1988. While I admit that I had some locally based commerce occurring in the front, and an informal gathering of acquaintances in the back, it was by no stretch of the imagination a mullet as defined, but I digress), the “devil may care” attitude, and the 32 inch waist. Where’d he go?
The nostalgic, melancholy side of me wants to follow Bruce Springsteen’s suggestion from back in 1984:
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of,
well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister
but boring stories of-
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
But the practical, realist side of me says, “Hey, dummy! You’re doing pretty good. Carpe Diem!”
Sure, I could stand to lose a few (30) pounds. Sure, I have to wear a hat outside when it’s sunny so my dangerously exposed epidermis doesn’t get horribly sunburned. Sure, I never got to do ninety percent of the stuff we used to sit around homeroom fantasizing about.
But, the realist is right (he usually is, the smarmy bastard).
I’ve made it to 38 years old and I’m still on my first wife, and my first mortgage. My first born son is now a full three inches taller than I ever was thanks to my wife’s good Viking genes, and, I’m only one organ short of what I came into this world carrying around (No, it’s not the liver. In spite of my best efforts in my late teens and early twenties, it’s still working as advertised). We get away when we can, and not as often as we’d like. We like NASCAR, and going “down the ocean.”
I enjoy my job, and I’m pretty good at what I do. I’ve tried to stand for something (that’s the idealist in me. He doesn’t come around here too often. If you see him, give him a hug.). I’ve seen good people do bad things, and bad people do worse.
I’ve been to a third-world shantytown, and seen the work of terrorists firsthand. I stood a post behind the leader of the free world.
Like Frankie said (Sinatra, not “Goes to Hollywood”):
Regrets, I’ve had a few,
But then again,
Too few to mention.
Where’d that 18-year-old kid go? He’s the guy looking at me in the mirror. He’s a little older, kinda paunchy, and losing his hair. But he’s smiling at me, so I’d say he’s doing pretty good (of course, that 18 year old kid is telling me to lie my ass off when I fill out this questionnaire. “Tell ‘em you’re delivering bottled water to the International Space Station!!”).
NHHS Class of 1988, I’ll see you in October unless I’m on a Shuttle mission (Be QUIET 18-year-old ME!!)!
Great story Dell. At my 20th, lots of the formerly cool kids seemed insecure and dull (were they always that way and I just never noticed??) and lots of the hopelessly geeky kids turned out to be confident, interesting and successful. I didn’t like to think of myself in any one group (although I leaned geeky) and I had friends in many camps, so maybe I felt free to observe. What I saw was that high school status, which seemed so important at the time, doesn’t tell you much about the rest of someone’s life, including your own.
Have a great time and let us know how it goes!
You know, I’ve never been able to get to any of my reunions (yet)- I went to Niagara Wheatfield in NY but would love to get to the next one. I think it would be the 25th? Yikes.
Where has the time gone. I am so happy now and I think I was pretty happy then but filled with so much angst about the future. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to high school.
I think I’d go back to HS, but it’d be one of those “if I knew then what I know now” deals.
I am still really good friends with a couple of guys that I graduated with. One of them lives a couple of blocks from me. Now our sons are in high school together, our only hope is that they DON’T do some of the stupid stuff their fathers did.
On the plus side, at least we have a frame of reference WHEN they do.
Cindy…that’s exactly what Ive found too…and they were enjoying the stuff we cool kids fantasized about in homeroom…detention…etc.
Go Figger !
Go Dagger !
Well I am evidently one of the oldest readers here….as I have already attended my 30th HS reunion in a little town in upstate NY. Unable to attend my 25th, I was looking forward to see who would show from a class of 275 graduates. As mentioned above the pretenses are now gone and it is refreshing to dialogue with friends from years ago. I like to think because we had all “grown up” we can appreciate each other more.
I hope you have fun Dell and let us know how it goes…your story is great- and one our kids can learn from also!!
Dave Yensan says
How interesting that this subject has suddenly come up. My HS reunion committee has just put out a questionnaire/survey and want to know what we what to do for our upcoming FIFTIETH! I wasn’t even going to respond as I know I would just see a bunch of old people and being young I don’t want that.
Thanks for the article. I did my 20th and 30th. I was in Viet Nam for the 10th and couldn’t get away for the 40th. I found the two worthwhile and am looking forward to the next one.
Enjoy yourself Dell. You will notice women who are gorgeous and find out yo never gave them a second glance back in the day. You will also discover that the most beautiful girl in the class is now a very ordinary looking woman. Jus enjoy!
I’m on the reunion comittee and was wondering if we are able can we use your story at the reunion or in the memory book? Great story. Thanks
That’d be great! Maybe I’ll have to come up with a “prize” for anyone who figures out who I am based on the essay.
Looking forward to seeing everyone next Saturday.
Of course, if I have to shed my nom de plume, I’ll run the risk of losing my status as a “Man of Mystery.”
No, keep your identity a secret. Everyone at the last commitee meeting had a great time trying to solve the “mystery”. We are going to have the article at the reunion and the DJ hopefully read it. After that you should reveal yourself. For the record though I think I know who you are and I’m betting we were on the paper together. I’m also thinking we both wrote columns—well we’ll see.
Reunion was last night, still collecting my thoughts. I’ll try to deliver a complete post-mortem later this week. Early returns?
-The commitee did a great job. The facility was just right, all the memorabilia, the food, all great stuff. Plus, they had my “secret identity” figured out before I walked in the door. Nice “detective” work ladies!
-I saw people that I can honestly say I have not seen in over 20 years. They looked older than I remember them being 20 years ago.
More to follow when I can put some more of them “word thingys” together.
Eric Myers says
I too was at the NHHS 20 year reunion and thought that it was a really nice time. I had a chance to connect with some people that I had not seen in lo these 20 years, as well as spend a fun filled evening with some very close friends that I have seen plenty of over those same 20 years. I saw people that would not give me the time of day then or now, as well as some classmates that were extremely nice. I guess the overall comment is that no matter what the external person looks like now (hairier, bigger, smaller, grayer, balding or whatever…) the internal personality seems to always shine through.
Thanks to the committee for doing all the thankless leg-work to get the event together. Everyone I talked to had good food, good friends and good times.
Here’s to seeing you all again at the 30 year……
I’ve had a little time to reflect and compose my thoughts “post event.”
The committee did us the service of putting our Senior Pictures on our name badges. While the ladies have all held up well (better than that in some cases), some of us guys are mere shadows of our 18-year-old selves. And, courtesy of said picture, my friends were able to receive independent confirmation that I did indeed have a mullet in 1988. Mystery solved.
There was a certain basketball standout-turned-attorney-turned-political candidate who looks like he just took off the green and gold varsity jacket yesterday. How do you do it, man?
And there was another former Slate Ridge Elementary chum who now prefaces his name with “Reverend.” Who in their right mind would have thought the Class of 88 would produce a clergyman?
The highlight, for me, was the appearance of an old friend that I can truly say I had not seen for 20 years! One of the guys that, when you tell stories about old times, was always right in the middle of everything, even when things ended, um, poorly. We’re going to try and get together over the holidays.
I’m given to fits of nostalgia from time to time. It could have been just me, but, for a couple of hours on Saturday night, there we were. We might as well have been sitting at the Senior Table in the cafeteria, or at the all-night Rock-a-Thon in the Old Gym. No cliques, no pretensions, just a bunch of old friends catching up on 20 years of life.
I can’t wait for 25!