I just went to my 20th high school reunion. Well, more or less. It got rolled into the picnic for the classes of ’85-’95. I went to Milwaukee High School of the Arts and my graduating class was less than 100 people. All the classes cross-pollinated through our particular majors – art, music, theater and dance – so we weren’t as defined as classes as some other schools might have been. But the bulk of us there at the picnic were from the class of 1990 cuz it was our magic reunion year I guess. I had a ball. Most of us look exactly the same, with the possible exception of a few more pounds. I’d like to think our waistlines have expanded to account for our broadened horizons...and that we’ve earned the right to stretch out a bit.
As I'm sure is the case at most reunions, there was a constant contrapuntal round of “so what have you been up to?” ringing out. Some folks brought their kids, a few of those kids are almost as old as we were when we saw each other last. Some have moved away, many are still nearby. Everyone seemed pretty happy – and genuinely so. That was cool to see. What really struck me was how many people seemed impressed/inspired that I was “still doing it,” as most of them put it. I did my level best to soak up and mentally freeze every single one of those exchanges – especially the parts where they said “good for you – keep going!!” I’ve been on the brink of quitting more than once. “Screw this madness – I’m gonna go have babies and teach math.” [Related back story: I actually lettered in math in high school. The only sport my school had was girls’ tennis. Had there been football players and cheerleaders I likely would have caught a lot more shit than I did for the big nerd patch on my jacket.] I’m feeling wonderful about my chosen life path right now - stronger than ever, in fact. But knowing the volatile nature of my emotions as I do, I plan to stash the memory of those interactions away as an insurance policy to be called upon the next time I have an attack of the “screw this”es. Maybe I’m carrying the torch for some who wonder what it would have been like to be “still doing it”. That’s OK. Plenty of them are carrying the house/kid/normal life torch for me. (We travel so much we can’t even have a dog, let alone a kid.) So we’re living vicariously through each other. Maybe that’s why we have these reunion things – so we can check ourselves against the choices we could have made, the paths we could have traveled. I hope I wasn’t the only one who walked away happy with my chosen path.