This morning, the school busses rolled out for a new school year. Remember the excitement of a new school year? All those new supplies, new backpack, new lunchbox. Wait, we did not have backpacks nor lunchboxes back in the day. We carried our books in our arms, and our lunch was in a brown paper bag! Right? It was my kids who always had new backpacks and lunchboxes, and of course new clothes. Oh, and Trapper Keepers! Well, more exciting than that is your high school reunion!
The Barn at Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, NC. A place we hung out in high school. Oh, the stories that could be told (but won’t)! Last weekend, I attended my 41st high school reunion. I know – usually there are only class reunions for years that end with a “0” or “5”. That is, unless you are part of a very special group of “old” friends. Thankfully, I am part of such a special group! The West Forsyth High School classes of ‘75, ‘76, and ‘77 from Clemmons, NC, who decided it is important at our age to have reunions every year. I reconnected with people I had not seen in 41 years, and those I have been fortunate enough to see or connect with via social media during this past year. I hope we continue with this tradition.
“Catching up with friends is like re-opening your favorite gift.”
I loved high school. I was a good student. And I was a varsity cheerleader. I was part of a group of wonderful girls who spent a lot of time together almost year round. Summers were filled with practices and cheerleading camps. Boy, were our summer practices fun since the football team was also having practice. And yes… I dated a football player. He was a senior, I was a junior. When school started, we practiced twice a week and had football games every Friday night (remember Friday Night Lights? That was US!). Winter brought basketball games every Tuesday and Friday. (My football player also played basketball. No wonder I loved being a cheerleader!) Our squad was GREAT! We won awards. We won trophies. We performed stunts 3 girls high. I’m surprised none of us have had knee replacements as we had one stunt where we literally dropped on our knees. No fear. Now, my knees do creak and I am terrified of heights! Sidebar: While having dinner with a very tall friend (15 inches taller than me), I mentioned something about being so careful and a bit afraid, now that I am SOLO, when I get on step stools or ladders. He asked why I was always on a step stool – DUH – to reach anything! I am 5’2” after all. He never has that problem.
I carpooled to school with fellow cheerleaders. On my days to drive, 5 of us piled into my tiny Orange Honda Civic 2-door hatchback with NO A/C (but it did have a cassette player), and headed to school. Several years ago, after reconnecting on Facebook, we had a cheerleader reunion of sorts at Myrtle Beach. 39 years after leaving high school we met as adults (well sorta) and caught up. It was as if we had not been apart throughout the years. We have since stayed in touch through emails and Facebook. We have seen each other retire, have grandchildren, move, end relationships, and begin new ones. And we are getting together again soon!
“Remember the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
We grow up. Live our lives. Grow our families. Build our careers. Make new friends. Yet we have such a history with those sweet “young” people from our high school years. Those wonderfully carefree, innocent, fun years before we HAD to grow up. Before we had jobs. Mortgages. Responsibilities. Before life became real. Last weekend we all went BACK in time and celebrated those “Wonder Years” together. I had a BLAST! Spent the afternoon with a very special group of ladies that I treasure being a part of. Lots of laughter, sharing, and WINE! Facetimed with one of “the group” who could not be there – she was in St. Croix (life is rough…). And I cannot repeat her advice to us for the night in case my mother or kids are reading this!
Then it was time to go to the reunion. The excitement of seeing who might be there. We had fun! Lots of fun! Lots of memories shared – pep rallies, football games, basketball games, baseball games, homecomings, proms. Who dated who? Some are still together after all of these years. Impressive. They know the secret. Some classmates re-met and married after reuniting at previous reunions. And what a difference a year makes. At last year’s reunion, I was newly separated, though I did not tell anyone. Not because it was a secret, but because I did not want our reunion to be about my broken heart. But life goes on. This year was a completely different story. I have come so far – as I was told, I have “survived and thrived”. And I am happy. Over the past year I shared my newfound status with many of my high school friends, and thankfully, due to my blog (which I learned so many classmates are reading!) most were aware of my new status: SOLO. I only had to tell one special “old” friend because he is not on social media and had no clue. Yes he was dumbfounded like everyone else has been. But the biggest surprise to me? As I hugged many of the guys, they whispered in my ear that they are reading my blog (among other things haha!)! That never occurred to me! I have no way of knowing who is reading my blog. So here’s to all y’all! Thank you!
“Ah, how good it feels. The hand of an old friend.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
So… the organizer of our reunion told me a week earlier that he had a present for me. I love presents! What could it be? Something from high school? That was a bit scary. No! So much better than that! Background – I became a Carolina fan in the 5th grade. How did this happen? And Why? Well, this kid in my class wrote a poem about Carolina Basketball and Charlie Scott (first African American to receive a scholarship to play basketball at UNC). I loved that poem. Everyone did. The teacher had him read the poem to every 5th grade class. That was my introduction to college sports – Carolina basketball, to be exact. Remember, I come from a family of girls – no sports in our family. But I started watching Carolina basketball games on TV with my Dad (also played cards with him) to see what it was all about. I fell in love! And have loved my Tar Heels since. Oh what about the present? Well the kid who wrote the poem is the organizer of our reunion for the last 2 years. Going through some old stuff, he found an old Carolina Tar Heel print signed by none other than Charlie Scott – and he gave it to me. Made me cry. Another UNC memento to be framed for my office. He is one special friend! And truly a great guy.
I am a hugger. If you get within a foot of me, beware because most likely you will be hugged. I hugged so many old friends last weekend. It did my heart good to see and hug all the beautiful people at our reunion. Old boyfriends. Old best friends. Old crushes. New crushes. Classmates who were once just acquaintances and are now friends. Gosh what a beautiful group of people! We have aged well. When I look at these “old” friends, I don’t see people approaching 60. I don’t see wrinkles, bald heads, pot bellies, or gray hair (I do LOVE gray hair!). I see sweet, beautiful, 17 year-old faces of people with whom I shared my youth. Those fun filled years.
I am so thankful to be able to see those friendly faces of long ago. Classmates that maybe you did not know as well back in the day, you now bond with. We are adults. Life has changed all of us, hopefully for the better. These are people that make me wish I lived closer to them. That make me want to go back to NC more often. And people I long to keep in touch with.
“Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you are going to miss in the years ahead.”
One more thing… My reunion definitely “eclipsed” the Eclipse! (funny right?) But I hope you got to view it because you won’t get a chance again until 2024. I got glasses while at the beach last week. Also, things have settled back down in Charlottesville. Hopefully, “LOVE” will put us back in the spotlight in a much softer manner. Ok that was 2 things. Maybe 3 – funny story here… my girlfriend from work and I walked downtown yesterday and she took my picture with the glasses. However, with the eclipse glasses on you can’t see a thing. Nothing, nada, total darkness (except the eclipse!). So I had them on and was saying, “Did you take the picture? Hello! Was it ok? Did you take my picture? Are you there?” Took the glasses off and she was off to the side dying laughing because I looked like a fool there with my glasses on and all the people around us eating lunch on the downtown mall, looking at me like was crazy! What are friends for?!? And notice that I said “take” my picture, not “make” my picture!
Go to your reunions. Connect with and cherish old friends. Relive your youth, if only for a night. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted – including tomorrow.
See you next week when I will share another reunion. A family reunion!