Why is it that listening to Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" is the final push I needed to start writing this all up? Oh the mind works in such mysterious ways.
Picture it, Los Angeles, 2012...(okay that's just such a Golden Girls/BladeRunner mash up I have to pause.)
Right. Moving on.
I am now a firm believer in 20th high school reunions. I didn't know this about myself until the end of the night when I was so very happy I'd gone. 20 years is a bloody long time. A whole new human being can become an adult + in that time! A person might have reinvented themselves at least three (maybe four) times since then! Giggling school girls have transformed themselves into moms and teachers and lawyers and doctors and firefighters! (YES! One of my classmates is a firefighter!!! Is that not the coolest? And so telling about me that it's super way more impressive than the other occupations I listed. Remember, I attended an all girls high school.) And finally, FINALLY, we're all comfortable in our own skins. Or at least really good at pretending we are.
It was in no way all bon bons and chocolate dipped strawberries. I was so nervous I wasn't sure I was going to be able to keep myself together enough to do it. Two nights before I was sort of lamenting not having planned a "spa day" the day before the event so I could totally look all super-awesome prepped and polished....then I remembered who I am and stated so to my dinner companions, "I'll be lucky if I remember to brush my hair before I go out the door." Cuz, yeah, at the time I still didn't know which blouse I was going to wear.
OMG, if you were on the flight down to LA with me, I'm sorry if I took up more than my share of overhead bin. I had NO IDEA I could pack that many clothes in my 9X14X22 carry-on -- technically it is the maximum volume allowed, but did you know canvas bulges? I could NOT make that sucker fit in the "top out" configuration that lets at least two other bags fit in the same compartment. Thanks to the adrenaline that fills my system whenever I fly, I was able to lift that sucker over my head with Amazonian ease to slide it into the bin, but yeah...the bulging, um tummy area of the bag, meant my bad boy only fit lengthwise. I shut the bin, sat down, and was all la la la, not my bag....I'd feel worse about this but um, I also want to say it's payback for all the times I had to gate check my bag because everything was full by the time I got on the plane. Yes, justifying this. And I'm soooo glad I did. All the different possible outfits I had shoved in there... and I ended up wearing a blouse my mom bought that was too big for her. Yes, this is also how I roll. I wore a top that a 76 yr old woman had bought for herself. Stylin'. But at least it had real short SLEEVES, not those fakey things that might as well be tank tops! (Damn you fashion world, I do not have the upper arms to pull off that fashion-no.) And what with the LA weather LYING to me when I was in Seattle and selecting 3/4 sleeves and possibly a sweater, I would have MELTED. You know, like my make-up was trying to do.
Yeah, I wore makeup. Or at least tried to. It didn't last long. Especially not after the ugly cry I had.
The event included a mass. (Yes, I went down to LA for my nephew's first communion as well as a mass/luncheon reunion. This is indeed more religion in one weekend than I usually do ALL. YEAR. LONG.) At the mass I was fully expecting to see the usual Sr. Suspects, you know, former principals and a teacher or two. But I did not expect to see one of the nuns that used to watch my brother and I when we were super wee. (My mom worked in my high school's maintenance department for 27 years. During the summers my older brother and I used to go with her and hand out with a couple of nuns who tried to keep us out of trouble.) When I saw her as I entered the chapel, I totally lost it. I don't know if it was memories or nostalgia or just a little crazy that took control of me. She's 91 years old now, head of fluffy white hair, and so very itty! Like a hobbit, really. I went from stunned to surprised to clinging, to bawling in a matter of seconds. And like the trooper she's always been, she just held me. Me, who was towering over her by at least two feet. All I could choke out was, "I'm Mary, Anita's daughter," and she remembered (maybe it was my mom she remembered) but she stroked my hair and said soothing and nice things about my mom and my brother and me as a little girl until I chilled the fuck out. I did say I lost it...in a room full of women and administrators there to celebrate all the alumni. I know, I win all the awards here.
But really and truly? After that? I was totally fine! The GINORMOUS ball of EVERYTHING BAD that I'd been carrying around since I boarded the plane was gone. I know this is probably because hi! There is no way this could in any way shape or form get any worse unless I, I dunno, pooped myself.
And it didn't. And I didn't. It actually got lots better. I may have started crying a couple more times, but I definitely wasn't alone, my classmates were just as weepy as me, and for at least one of those instances, it was because we were laughing too hard, and that just made the whole thing awesome.
We gathered that evening at a non-school sanctioned event so we could chill and catch up in a more non-school atmosphere, and it was a blast. Maybe even a little more fun than the official reunion.
Not living in LA, I didn't expect to come away with any new best friends. But it was so awesome to sit and visit and share food and stories with people who were a part of my past. Yes, my facebook friend list is a little longer, and a have a couple new numbers on my phone, so who knows, maybe I'll have a few more faces to see when I go down to LA to visit...maybe not.
So now I'm all preachy, if you have a chance to go to yours? Do. Just do. Even if it's not the "official" one. 20 years! And I'm not dead yet! It's quite a milestone, I think.