I did a bit of sleuthing (some call it stalking) the night before the reunion and looked up as many photos of old classmates as I could find online. And I learned that twenty years REALLY ages people.
Not that anyone looked very old but I would have never recognized most on the street. Good thing we all wore nametags.
Unfortunately, even with eyeglasses I couldn't read anyone's name. But I wasn't the only one. Picture the classes of 1987, 1967 and 1957 all pitching forward and leering at each other. Picture us all trying to look smooth as we do it. We squinted like Clint Eastwood and gently swirled the wine in our glasses trying to look casual about it all.
Except for me. I can't drink because of the medication I take, so I told my friend that I'd tell others one of us had to be sober enough to drive. She thought I was joking.
At first we couldn't make eye contact, so we strolled the campus marveling at all the changes…looking a bit like star-struck fans whenever we thought we spied somebody that we knew. "Is that So-and-so?"
Then we all gathered near the chilled beverages and stale goldfish crackers. Little by little we worked up the nerve to re-acquaint ourselves with each other. I met Helen Hunt, Jeff Daniels and William Shatner look-alikes.
I got used to people leaning in to stare at my left breast. Because that's where my big white nametag with the tiny font was stuck. At least that's a part of me that has changed for the better over the years. I actually have a left breast now. And a right one, too. Motherhood will do that to you.
It was fun guessing who each of us were. As the night carried on we hardly flinched at all when we made eye contact. We smiled. We laughed…we nodded a lot because our hearing had waned as much as our eyesight had.
I'm more than certain that I left a few thinking, "What the…??" I hope I didn't nod and smile at some inappropriate moment like when So-and-so excused himself to go use the lavatory. Note to self: Self, come up with more neutral expressions for conversations beside the mysterious smile and polite laugh.
All in all, we had a great time and agreed that high school is absolutely so much better at age thirty-eight than eighteen.
I did it. I went back. I faced my ghosts. The older me let the younger me know that it all worked out really, really well.
But I'm not too sure what my younger me said in reply. So I just smiled politely and laughed.