Monday, July 23, 2018

30 Plus 1

Last November I received a message from a high school friend I had not seen in 30 years. Vicki was dying. She had cancer and it spread faster than thought possible. Vicki was someone else I had not seen in 30 years. Through the magic of Facebook I had reconnected with some of my high school classmates, but had not taken the extra step to see them in person. Rather than focusing on "why not," I focused on what could I do about that.

A few of us started chatting on Facebook and decided even though it was not a traditional reunion year, we could have one. I created a Facebook group and instantly a bunch of people joined. Barbra searched for viable email addresses for those we could not easily find on Facebook. Using basic statistics, let's say half of our classmates were women. Of that half, many changed their last names, including myself. Others, including the guys, had common enough last names that made it a challenge to figure out which was the right John Smith (totally making up a name here since I don't use last names on my blog). Sadly some died. In the end at least 200 of our 315-ish classmates were located.

Of that bunch, some ignored repeated requests to just get off the fence and commit to going or to not going. A couple of weeks ago we were 25 shy of our 75 person minimum (a number we did not achieve, but the venue kindly worked with us). Day of we had several walk-ins.

Details were taken care of. Decisions were made. Yearbook photos were scanned. Facebook hype was growing. Emails sent out. More emails sent out. More emails sent out. Contests to encourage people to reach out to their cliques, I mean friends, happened. Conference calls happened. 

It was fun being on the committee. Being on the committee helped me to bond with the other committee members and made me look forward to seeing them. I did not attend either the 10 or 20 year reunions. Had it not been for Facebook, I would have completely lost touch with everyone.

Now for the actual event. I went in with more than a little bit of apprehension. Our last conference call did not go so well with only three of us on it, and I had nothing to add. 

The day of the event arrived. The others set up while I dealt with traffic. Thought I was going against shore traffic, but a storm sent many people home early. I had fun getting ready with these ladies. Made me think of the prom experience I didn't have -- I went to the prom, but did not gather with a bunch of girlfriends first to primp and prepare.

We were the first group to hit the photo booth. I obviously think I am way taller with my one-inch pumps than the shorter people in the front row with their higher heels. Wish we had also done a full-body pose. Can never have enough pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I took a lot that night. Anytime I spoke with someone I remembered from the past, I had someone take a picture of us. We were all snapping pictures. I was just the only one using a "real" camera.

With the help of the committee members, I took group photos. For the sake of space, I'll share the ones I am in (taken by someone else with my camera). 

Middle School

Elementary School

High School
(a date took this photo)
I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by name from people I didn't realize knew I even existed in high school. I thought I had flown under the RADAR -- not a geek, not a jock, not a top musician, not a top anything. I was involved with activities, but not a leader. I got decent grades, but not honor society. There was no one in the hit movie The Breakfast Club I could relate to as "yeah, they are picking on me." Mind you, this was when I wasn't wearing my name tag. Most of the people took the time to thank me personally for my work on the committee. Amazing how much a thank you motivates you to sign up the next time a volunteer opportunity arrives.

As for me recognizing others, I was grateful for those name tags! I am so easily fooled by things like a person going from brown hair to becoming a blond. Okay, I'm fooled by someone changing from what they were wearing at the pool to reunion attire 30 minutes later. On a good note, I remember everyone at their best and don't see flaws.

I was super excited to see Chuck, Barbra, Joy, and Diane (as well as others). Diane and Baman (not pictured) made the trek from Europe. Last I saw Diane she was heading to Italy as I was heading to Belgium on exchange. We exchanged a couple of letters, but never took the time to catch up on what (at least to me) was one of my most exciting experiences -- one only another exchange student could understand.

Chuck, Joy, and Barbra are three people I remember lighting up the stage. I admired their talent from the safety of the pit orchestra and the anonymity of the audience. They have each performed since the PHS stage.

There was much debate about when to hold the reunion. By holding it in the summer our attendees skewed towards far away. I already mentioned two traveling from Europe, there were also several West Coasters, someone from Las Vegas, some from Florida and along the East Coast, plus a few locals. There is talk about getting together Thanksgiving Weekend in 2019, the year many of us hit a milestone birthday, and have a low-key celebration at a local restaurant. Hopefully now that we have many email addresses and Facebook connections we can stay connected at least until then.

One of the best decisions we made as a committee was to skip the deejay and have a classmate load a flash drive with 80's music. I heard at the 20th reunion the music was so loud everyone hung out in the hallway. I continued the 80's theme on the drive home by listening to 80's rock on the radio. Amazing how many stations carry music from my youth after midnight. I've heard it said the best music is whatever was popular when you were in high school. 

Those of you debating about going to your reunion, do it. You might be surprised to learn by this point we can be adults and have meaningful conversations, even if we didn't do so in high school. The Republican and the Democrat who spar on Facebook can declare a truce for one night and talk about something else. You can feel young again by being with people who think about you as as teenager -- in a totally good way. If I'm wrong, you can either leave or hit the open bar (if there is one). Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


  1. Here, here, totally beautiful, and you are as I remember you and I am blessed that you are part of my life, even if it had been 30 years. I’m sure everyone else feels the same.

  2. Beautiful article and I’m so glad we reconnected after all these years. I’ll miss our committee emails and conference calls. Thanks again for all your help!

  3. Great blog post Jacqueliyn. You captured the essence of the night. I laughed all night long listening and telling stories from high school. Thank you for your part in making it happen Michele

  4. U are just a sweetheart.
    Love reading you.... ur a talented writer.