People mature, and you know they will, but how do you approach the unknown, where to break the ice? But not just ice, ice that changed how you saw the word, at least for a while, and who you have become. For better or worse high school is a part of us all. In fact, I've spent a few hours in counseling myself trying to sort out what four years can do to a girl. It's hard to put yourself back out there but you never know who made your life miserable in high school will be your new favorite person to follow on face book and trust me, you'll be glad you found out. Not everything changes. There were still those guys, running wild, free from responsibility and maturity, blacked out all weekend long, but not the majority. Happily, we discovered it wasn’t putting yourself out there for post pubescent, popular high school snobs to judge and compare what you have been doing with your life. It was more like being in a group of people who look crazy familiar but when you start talking to them you discover that you don't really know them at all, maybe you never did. You have a conversation and suddenly forget what was so different about the two of you, you just might be friends.
As for that question, how to break the ice, I found that thawing even the most timid, suspicious of hearts, a simple hug will do the trick. I didn't need an apology; I didn't want one, but a hug, that says it all. I'm happy to see you, you look great, I really want to know how you are doing... yep, a hug says it all. I got hugs from a lot of old friends and that felt nice but I also got some hugs from people I wasn't even friends with in high school, healing, forgiving, honest hugs that meant so much to me, for that, thank you.
Confession, I saw an old, faithful, wonderful friend in the Ephrata Wal-Mart a few years ago. I hadn’t seen him in about five years and because our last encounter was an intense one and I was nervous and completely caught off guard I said, “Hi, How are you? Are you still married?” Ahhhh, who says that, are you still married, really? As you can imagine this incredibly uncomfortable conversation was short. Embarrassed and red faced I watched him walk away, wallowing in my own ridiculousness, do over please. I wish I could bump into him now and say, “Remember when I saw you in Wal-Mart, I’m so sorry, how is your family? And remember when you totally put yourself out there that one time to save my butt, thank you, you’re kind of my hero. And I have been praying for you and thanking God for you for years.” That’s what I wanted to say and managed to get out the exact opposite.
Social anxiety, no wonder so many of my friends will not go to their class reunions, because they might do that fifty times in one weekend. I totally get it, valid fear, but if we are all fools together we might get some of those words we meant to say out and that is worth looking the fool. I got to see a beautiful friend, the only girl my age who ever lived on our block, and say some of those things I should have said fifteen years ago. I was not the friend I wanted to be and got to say “I’m sorry, I have always admired you and even though we didn’t speak much in high school tears of pride where in my eyes when you ran for Miss Ephrata. You are so beautiful inside and out. I want to be your friend.” She is coming over for dinner with her family on Friday. Thank you God for do overs!
Looking over the list of RSVPs I felt a little pang looking at a few names. I thought those people were so hurtful and I’m really not looking forward to catching up but about two hours into the picnic I ran into one. Imagine my surprise when they hugged me. Okay, and we are hugging now, cool, I guess this is going to be fine. Then he proceeded to ask me some of the most thoughtful, insightful questions about my life and be awesome to my children who were all well into their two o’clock and I haven’t napped tantrums. Now I have a new friend and I’m so glad we met. So to all my friends who didn’t want to go “because I’m friends with the people I want to see and I don’t want to see anyone else.” YOU TOTALLY MISSED OUT!
I think being okay with who you are makes all the difference. I'm proud of the last ten years even though they did not include a bachelor’s degree and did include maybe more children than is socially acceptable, three. I love toddlers, foster care, PAVE (family advocacy), Special Olympics, being an Air Force wife, Down syndrome parent support... Sometimes I love less; diapers, doing dishes, time outs... This is my busy, crazy, wonderful life and there is nothing to be ashamed about. So you've been in school for the last ten years because you discovered something you are passionate about after getting a degree for something you'll never use, you had your first child at 17 and have been working ever sense, you design fly fishing equipment... it's your story. When you come contented with who you are you are going to be able to enjoy the diversity in everyone else.
My only regret of the reunion was that I wish I had got to spend more time talking to a few people. One dear friend flew all the way from California and we barely got a few sentences in before getting sidetracked, as toddlers will do. My junior high walking home buddy has been in the peace core for years and we didn't get a chance to catch up, bummer, I so would have loved to hear about that. People in pictures posted after, man, I didn't even see them. Some classmates who caused pain I know have changed I didn't get a chance to give one of those hugs. I guess that's who I'll hug first after another ten years. I'm remembering where I have been and I'm thinking about where I am going. I regret how I should have loved better and things I still want to change about myself. It's a good time for some self inventory. I hope when this rolls around again I will have changed as much again and look forward to meeting a whole bunch of familiar looking strangers.
Michelle, Me, Ashley