Reunited and I feel so old…

This summer marked my 20th high school reunion. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around it. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I know I’m supposed to have a plan, to have that all figured out by now. But I don’t. In the immortal words of Phoebe Buffay from Friends, “I don’t even have a pla.”

Due to the vigilant efforts of my former classmates, there was a reunion held in our high school town a few weeks ago. I was away at the time and couldn’t attend, but thought I would share my jumble of thoughts and movie-related connections about the big event here. 

Thanks for the memories PVEC

It seems surreal that it’s been twenty years since that memorable day in June of 1992 when we marched, all fresh-faced and wide-eyed, between rows of plastic chairs on the gym floor towards our future. We were the graduating class of 1992 – all 262 of us – united in our triumph, anticipation and pride as the mighty Panther loomed over us [to “Friday Night Lights” fans, eat your hearts out – we were the Panthers first!] 65% of us were headed for post-secondary greatness at universities, colleges, and vocational schools, the highest percentage of students in a single graduating class to achieve that feat in our school’s history at that point in time. In our three years we contributed to a highly celebrated musical, provincial championship athletic teams, and internationally acclaimed Model United Nations Conferences. There were scholarships and awards, speeches and presentations, accolades and distinctions. We put condoms in the washrooms (for those not from Nova Scotia, this was a big deal in a fairly rural community in 1992)! Was there anything we couldn’t do?

We were lucky – our high school gave us so many opportunities to explore who we were. From tinkering with souped-up Corvettes in the parking lot to running the student body, there were a million things to do at Park View – whether you did them or not was entirely up to you. And love it or hate it, Park View painted our collective perspective with fire engine orange and excrement brown.

Unfortunately, I think there’s a trend in our culture where we tend to focus more on accomplishments rather than our interests, experiences, and funny little quirks – you know, the stuff that makes us who we are. Instead of the high school cliques of Jocks, Brains, Criminals, Princesses, and Kooks ala “The Breakfast Club”, we now inadvertently belong to the “married with children” club or the “successful entrepreneur” club (I would belong to the “slightly adrift and uncertain” club). Unless movies have lied to me (“the horror…”), I get the impression reunions seem to focus primarily on establishing where everyone stands in terms of the Big Three: marriage, kids, career. We should have at least one of those by now, right?

But I don’t think our alma mater spit out a bunch of androids that long hot evening in June. High school, such as it was, helped mould us as individuals. Individuals who were only just beginning to realize who we were and what our place in the world might be. So here’s a radical idea for how to approach a reunion. When coming together after so much time, distance, and life experience, and after asking what someone does for a living or how many children they have, maybe invite them to discuss recent travels, or good books they’ve read lately, or their volunteer work or how they like their eggs. I’m a scrambled girl myself, in case you were wondering.

To close, here’s some notable wisdom from a wide range of high school reunion flicks:

Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) take on the mean girls (Source)

 

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

Best friends Romy and Michele are so desperate to impress the cool kids from high school at their 10-year reunion that they concoct the wild success story that they invented Post-its. Take-away message: don’t worry about impressing people – it turns out everyone’s screwed-up.

 

Grosse Pointe Blank

In the midst of an existential crisis, hitman Martin Blank (Cusack) takes a job in his home town during the weekend of his 10-year reunion providing a chance to both reconcile with the one who got away (Driver) and end his killing ways. Take-away message: you can go home again – just make sure you’re armed.

Minnie Driver and John Cusack stroll down memory lane in “Grosse Pointe Blank” (Source)

 

Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage get a do-over in “Peggy Sue Got Married” (Source)

Peggy Sue Got Married

Restless wife and mother Peggy Sue becomes 18 again after fainting at her 25th high school reunion and gets to explore the age-old adage: “If I knew then what I know now…” Take away message: we’re just as clueless the second time around.

 

Beautiful Girls

The cast of “Beautiful Girls” (Source)

Uncertain about the direction his life has taken, Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) returns home for his reunion and connects with his high school buddies who still live in the small town where they all grew up. Take away message: wishing for what was will never help you appreciate what is.

The “American Pie” gang reunited (Source)

American Reunion

Virgins no more, the boys meet up again to catch up after over a decade apart and try to recapture some of what they’ve lost – awkwardness and sexual misadventures ensue. Take away message: some things never change.

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10 thoughts on “Reunited and I feel so old…

  1. Meg says:

    Having been to both the 10th and the 20th I really found the 10th was the pressure one (the big 3) but by the 20th we were all pretty comfortable with our own life decisions and not as judgey about others… Even if those life decisions still involved a lot of indecision.

  2. Teri Appleby says:

    Oh Janet, I so wish you could have attended the reunion! I too was more than a little apprehensive about those dreaded catch-up conversations, but it turned out that that was not what the reunion ended up being about at all. Certainly we chatted about the “Big 3” because that’s just what you do when you’re getting (re)acquainted with someone. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly those conversations were abandoned and we proceeded to simply enjoy our limited time together. Gone were the social cliques that we so desperately had to belong to in high school, gone were the expectations of how successful we “should” be in our adult lives, gone were the complicated hormones that fueled our teenage selves. We came together as a group of long-seperated people who shared a common youth. We grew up in the same place, went to the same schools, had the same teachers, and knew the same people. We knew each other on a fundamental level and that doesn’t happen often in our adult lives. It was very special to spend a day with our fellow grads. Hopefully you’ll be able to join us next time. There was some parting talk of a 20 + 1 get-together next summer…stay tuned!

    • Thanks, Teri – glad to hear it was such a success. I’m sorry to have missed it. From the pics it looked like you all had a great time. That’s usually how the reunion movies end, too!

  3. My HS reunion is probably around the corner, too. I agree with what you said about HS molding people. It’s funny. As important as it is to be educated, the real value of HS comes from the people you meet and the experiences you have outside of class.

  4. Moe Elkateb says:

    Good post Janet. Reading this gave me a morning smile as I think we all relate to the movies in one way or another. My scheduling was off as well and couldn’t make the reunion. Glad to hear the possibility of a 20+1….

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