As anyone who has attended a major reunion for the first time already knows, it felt strange at first to suddenly reconnect with people I hadn't seen in decades. I remembered us all as kids, but now we were all older adults. I had to quickly reconcile my memories of the past with the mature present. The gangly, shy boy I'd known is now the dapper periodontist; the former tom boy and gal pal is now the accomplished television professional.
|Getting my first wheels, circa '73|
I think we attend reunions to reconnect, not just with others, but with a sense of ourselves from an earlier time. As I sat at the reunion table, I tried to remember what I was like in high school, what my ambitions had been back then. I remember that I loved English class, especially creative writing assignments. But I didn't connect my vague enjoyment of writing with any notion of a future career. I come from a family of scientists and academicians. Our clan regards writing as a tool, not an aspiration. I thought the ambition of becoming a writer was only meant for the literati and artistes.
I wish I'd known when I was young that "real" people can become writers. It would have helped me get started earlier. So, here's my advice to all the high school English teachers out there: invite a local novelist to speak about writing to your class. You might just be giving that quiet girl in the third row a vision of her future.
Question for you all: have you ever braved a high school reunion before? How did it go?
Update: I just added a picture of me "back in the day"--thanks to Jordan for the suggestion!