This past weekend found me staring at the skid marks of where 35 years have gone. Yep. High school class reunion time. Wahoo! Go class of “76! When the somewhat last minute notices came out there wasn’t enough time to panic about appearances, which was a relief. I decided this is what I look like at my age, and that is good enough. It’s funny how the idea of being back with classmates stirs the sleeping juices of adolescents. My high school years were actually pretty simple and innocent comparatively, yet there are those lingering emotions that tickle and torment.
My husband gleefully agreed to come along as my escort. He was hoping for bawdy stories to sully and nullify my G-rated versions. I believe, if asked now, he was disappointed. I had a dirty mind, but that was about it. In fact one of the first things a male classmate said to my husband was, “I tried to drive her home one night, but she made it clear that was ALL that was going to happen.”
There were surprises. For instance I was amazed that out of my small class of thirteen, four are involved in some way with disabled individuals. One is a Special Ed teacher, one manages a group home, one is a foster parent to special-needs children, and one has adopted two siblings with fetal alcohol syndrome. Bless them all for being so giving and loving.
Several of us are in second marriages, but the majority remains married to their high school sweethearts. What started as crinkled wallet pictures of grandchildren (accompanied by bragging), soon switched to memorabilia and photos of the old days. We laughed at our foibles, appearance, and memories. Everyone added to the oral collection of what was, and what might still be waiting.
What I took away from the experience is that I have been my own person all along. One classmate pointed out that I had unusual style choices back then and finished by saying, “Gail embarrassed our whole class.” I did a gut-check to see if my feelings were hurt, and realized they weren’t. I simply looked at him, shrugged, and said, “I wasn’t afraid to express myself.” I knew that hadn’t been the case for him, and wondered if he still resented the freedom I joyously embraced. I hope not, anyway.
Inside, I can feel the remnants of the girl who wanted more than the small-town minds would approve. Cold insecurity visits on creative days, but I shoo it away unwelcomed. That was then, this is now. After visiting the past I realize I like the woman I’ve become. Lord knows I still make choices from my Bohemian heart instead of my practical brain, but that is what makes me, well, me. And like I said, that is enough.
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