High school reunion
Aging and Wisdom,  Appreciation,  D.G. Kaye,  Friendship,  Fun stuff,  Memories,  Relationships,  That's Life

The High School Reunion – Have You Ever Attended One?

While I was away on winter vacation, one of my oldest school friends, Cindy, who I grew up with since aged 7, Facebook messaged me that there was going to be a high school reunion, called the ‘Birthday reunion’, because most of us would be celebrating a big scary birthday this year. I told Cindy, I’d think about it and get back to her.

 

I pondered going, off and on, right up until the day of the event. I was never one who attended such events, but I seriously gave it some thought. My first thoughts were to not go as I’d declined two other invitations over the decades. My logic was that while in high school, I didn’t socialize much with anyone except a very few students and my friend Cindy, her then boyfriend who became her husband, and Cindy’s younger sister.

My high school was out of my living district, which had me taking a 1/2 mile walk to the bus and 3 consecutive buses to get to school and back daily – save for those days after I got my licence and managed to take my mother’s car to school because most often she was picked up for her daily socializing jaunts, or when Cindy got her own car and we’d ride together. And most of my friends went to the school in my designated living area. William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute was known as a highly academic high school with a gifted program. Several students from that school went on to become successful lawyers, doctors, politicians and writers. Another notable from my high school, ironically, didn’t finish high school, got expelled and went on to become a Hollywood star with Deal or No Deal and now America’s Got Talent – Howie Mandel. He was a few years ahead of me and ironically, my mother was friend’s with his mother but I didn’t know him well, but I rode the bus with his brother Steve to school for years.

I was an awkward teen with no sense of self-esteem and felt like the Ugly Duckling most of my school life. No boys ever looked twice at me and most of the girls traveled in packs or what I often refer to as ‘cliques’. For a girl who was always thinking and had a lot to say about everything, I was quite introverted and timid while in school and didn’t form many relationships, which never inspired me to go to any reunions.

I struggled with my decision to go this time. But I finally decided maybe it would be interesting to see some people of the past and find out about how some of their lives progressed, and of course, see what they looked like now. Plus it would be a good time to spend some time with Cindy. I decided that I came a long, long way from high school days, now comfortable in my own skin, an accomplished writer and author, and a bounty of life experience, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go.

The event was held in a lovely but rather small restaurant and patio cafe, but sadly, the weather was so darned cold and actually snowing again, which put a damper on sitting outside on the patio. The food was great, the music totally took me back to my teenage years, and most of the faces I’d drawn a blank to identifying. But thanks to my trustee friend Cindy who stays on top of many social circles, she was able to identify every questionable face I asked her about.The evening somehow transported me back to some memorable moments back in time.

We arrived early so we could eat something before the crowd piled in. It turned out we weren’t the only ones with that idea. When we arrived there were already more than a dozen people there sitting down at a table eating. So we grabbed ourselves a table and ordered some food. Before long, the introductions began. For a good part of the night, I felt like that old wallflower from back in the 70s as I was quite content remaining at the table and observing, but my trustee friend kept introducing me to people of my past. “Sorry, I don’t recognize you” was the most popular response by many. And in true social form, Cindy would add in, reminding people I had long blond hair back then. That hint clicked with some but went over the fence with others.

 

friends

 

Many introductions were brief, some I engaged in conversation with for a short while – small talk and pleasantries, but no real stimulating conversation, except for one girl who I’d barely known in school, but for some reason we just clicked in our conversation about life. She was actually the only person who’d asked what I did for a living or was I retired already like it seemed many girls were. My new friend informed me she was going to retire from doing public relations this year and enjoy the rest of her life. I told her I was a writer and she seemed stoked to meet a ‘real author’, lol. We exchanged email addresses at the end of the evening, and hopefully we will connect.

Three different guys came up to me announcing they remembered me. I laughed to myself thinking three males actually remembered me, one who I recognized and the other two I drew a blank about until they brought up some shenanigans from days past and we had a short chuckle over. Besides another old school chum, only one other girl remembered me, as we were school friends, but I’d completely forgotten about her. She sat down to chat with me. The talk was small and short and although it left me feeling as though we had nothing in common, it was nice to see a friend from the past.

I observed a lot that night and had little flashback moments of many of those students back in the day, remembering who hung around with who, who were the shit disturbers, who were snobby ( a very common trait back in those school days), who ignored me and who were nice to me. I observed their faces and demeanor, curious to see who aged well, who let themselves ‘go’ and who were still friends with their old cliquey groups. I came to realize how far I came from those days, not just in life, but how much I’d grown within myself, how confident I now felt among my old school peers, despite them never knowing.

I looked at that evening as a ‘night out’ and a chance to revisit a past I had no real fond memories of. Perhaps I had an inner desire to show up and present myself as no longer the quiet ‘Ugly Ducking’ of yesteryear, kind of like a “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee” moment. Sure I’ve aged along with everyone else, and I’m no longer the girl with the long blond hair and glasses, but a now secure, dynamic, still wrinkle-less redhead with glasses who finally found her voice in the world. I had no intentions of going back to the past, only to visit how time had treated my old school alumni and a curiosity to see how they’d fared in life since. I’m glad I went to my first and only reunion. Everyone should experience that once, and for me, once was enough.

Have you ever gone to a school reunion? If so, how did it make you feel?

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Name: D.G. Kaye job Title: Author Business: DGKayewriter.com Image: https://dgkayewriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Bitmo-school.png Facebook Url: Facebook Twitter Url: Twitter Instagram Url: Instagram LinkedIn Url: LinkedIn Pinterest Url: Pinterest

D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

68 Comments

  • Stevie Turner

    I’ve only been to one. Like you I was timid and shy, and didn’t really have that many friends during my school days. I met a few girls who I remembered and who remembered me, but the overall impression was that I wished I hadn’t gone as I’d rather live in the present! We’re all different people now, and like you I’m more comfortable in my own skin.

  • Janet Gogerty

    I nearly went to one. It was 1990, year of the big holiday back to Australia to introduce my husband and children to my parents! Now as my maiden name is uncommon, especially in little Perth, the organisers of the high school reunion soon phoned my parents and the reunion was to occur during the nine weeks of our holiday. This was also the most stressful holiday of my life compounded by the three children getting chicken pox each in a row and the holiday being postponed twice – so I missed the reunion. I think I was relieved! But years later there was another one resulting again in my mother being contacted and this time email addresses forwarded to me. I had some nice e-mail chats to a lady who hadn’t been in my little circle, but we obviously had a lot in common. Lists of emails were circulated to everyone, but I couldn’t find my then best friend and didn’t bother getting in touch with anyone else. The only friend I had kept in touch with was visiting England to see us anyway. Nobody else got in touch personally with me, proving that I had been pretty much invisible, but poignantly there was news of quite a few no longer with us, such as the golden boy who had committed suicide.

    • dgkaye

      Wow Janet, your first attempt at reunion was certainly action-packed. I see we both felt like the invisible ones. And I too was astounded when a speech was made and condolences were paid for some of our alumni that had passed much too early. 🙁

  • Marian Beaman

    Big, scary reunion? Yes! The men wear wearing gray wigs or no hair at all. The women, of course, were dyed. I noticed the personalities were intact though, mostly a good sign. Ha!

  • Hugh Roberts

    Not for all the afternoon teas in Harrods would you get me to a school reunion. It’s one of the reasons why I left Facebook. Too many people from way back asking silly questions or opening up ‘chat’ as soon as I logged in.
    Glad you had a good time, though, Debby. There are some things I wouldn’t mind travelling back to the past to do, but meeting up with those I went to school with is not one.
    I think I’d rather go and meet up with some of the hot dates I had when I was on the rampage in 1980s London. 😀 😈

  • Robbie Cheadle

    I never do any alumni things, Debby. I never stay in touch with people either. I went to 14 schools and lived in 21 houses in 5 different cities and towns so I learned to keep people at bay and not get to close to them. It made it quite easy to move on. I have never really lost the habit. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate people when they are in my life, I just can’t seem to stay in touch when they no longer are in my life.

  • John Maberry

    Well I did–despite many reservations. A TINY graduating class of 126 at a school I attended only my senior year after my brother moved to Kendall Park, NJ. He had a job transfer to the Manhattan office of a major corporation. I lived with him and his family after my mother died near the end of my sophomore year. Yes, many cliques. A strangely diverse mix of farm and industrial students with those from commuter parents. Jocks, nerds, thugs, popular, etc. I went anyway and recognized few; likewise me. It went fine. Our notable alumnus is Donald Fagen, lead guy from Steely Dan. Apparently, he’s come to none of the reunions that the class has held over the decades. Something like 40 attended the 50th, including me. We did lots of things–in Jupiter, Florida where the convener and some of the other folks did. Few of the really successful attended, but some did. Next year they’re trying to organize a cruise–not many takers this time, me included. I have 40th wedding anniversay that takes precedence.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing your experience John. I remember you and discussed that reunion and I also urged you to go, lol. Well, I was urged by others too and was curious too, but nothing spectacular for me either. 🙂

  • Christy B

    I didn’t go to the high school reunion years back as I wasn’t feeling good about myself. But I might go to the next one. It sounds like you made a new connection with a gal friend and remembered some fun times of the past. I bet if you had told more people about your writing accomplishments they really would have been impressed. I know I am proud to know you!

    • dgkaye

      Gawd, you’re so good for the soul Christy. Thank you for your lovely words. And yes, you’re probably right, but I’m not one to toot my own horn about anything, and I really didn’t feel inspired to go out of my way to do so. I was happy in the shadows, lol. 🙂 xx

  • Jacqui Murray

    You listed all the reasons I don’t go to high school reunions–and the night you had is exactly the one I’d fear. Thanks for this. Now I will stay firmly rejecting future invitations!

    • dgkaye

      LOL Jacqui, maybe I should have taken a poll before I went. General consensus of writers say they wouldn’t have gone. 🙂 Live and learn.

  • sally cronin

    So pleased you decided to attend Debby and I am sure Cindy loved having your company… I hope that those you did connect with will keep in touch.. I will reblog on Sunday.. ♥♥

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    Its difficult to connect at high school reunions if you didn’t connect in high school to begin with, Deb. I loved high school and of course you know my story that I knew my now husband from high school. I’ve remained friends with many although most still live in San Diego. Facebook helped with that process. To date I’ve been to all 4 reunions, our 40th was last September. Since San Diego is my hometown and my family still lives there, any excuse to visit always motivates me. It was a blast and special to walk in to this reunion with my hubby with whom I graduated.

  • Dorinda Duclos

    You’re a braver soul than I! I’m having a hard time thinking of you as an “ugly ducking”. I think you look fabulous! I passed on my 40th reunion, but they’re planning that big birthday one. My outlook has always been, I still see the people I am interested in seeing. My class was over 400, so there’s no way I would know Joe Schmo from anyone else. You get a good star from me. <3

  • Hilary

    Hi Debby – yes I’ve been to two I think … with a girlfriend who sent her first daughter there. I put my foot in it and so reverted to who I had been … I really didn’t enjoy it! Such is life – not again that’s for sure … cheers Hilary

  • Pamela

    You not only survived your high school reunion, you nailed it, Debby! Good for you (brave, too). The last high school reunion I went to was at year 10 I think. I felt kind of wallflowerish as I did when I attended high school. Freshman and sophomore year I literally hugged the walls I think. I did flower a bit the last two years, particularly when I began to date the BMOC. But still, I didn’t feel much connection when I attended Year 10 reunion, so I have no plans to go to another one.

  • Elaine Mansfield

    Fun! I grinned when you said you arrived early and everyone else did, too. I think that pegs the age group who attended. I’ve never been to a high school reunion. I’ve never been back to the Michigan town where I went to high school. My mom moved, I met Vic in Ithaca and that was that. It might be interesting. I have one FB friend from high school, so she has known me longer than anyone except a few cousins.

    • dgkaye

      I’d imagine it’s a lot more difficult to attend reunions when people move or change states. As it turns out, Cindy, who I went with is my oldest friend since childhood through high school too. 🙂

  • Diana Peach

    I’ve never gone to a reunion, Debby. I didn’t like HS and had few friends, so I don’t remember most of the people. UGH. But maybe someday… your experience certainly makes it seem less intimidating. Good for you for going and at least you got to say you’re a real live author!

    • dgkaye

      Lol thanks Diana. It sounds a lot like your high school years felt like mine. I’d bet any many if we were in school together we would have been friends for sure! <3

  • Annika Perry

    Debby, I’m glad it was a positive experience for you and it can be fun to catch up. As you say, it is the changes that one can’t see that are so important and great that the visit only reaffirmed your self-awareness of how much your you’ve grown, become self-confident.

    As I’ve moved far from where I grew up I’ve never been to a reunion … early on I wouldn’t have been tempted but wouldn’t mind meeting a few of the other students. As it is a friend from school who I haven’t seen in over twenty years has reached out to me and wants to meet up! I’m looking forward to that … and from her letter began to understand her reasons for pulling away for a long while.

    Wishing you a lovely Easter, my friend! 😀🌺🌼

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for adding to the conversation Annika. That’s interesting that friend reached out to you after 20 years. I’d be curious why the time lag too. Now you have to let us know how your reunion goes! 🙂 <3

  • Ritu BHATHAL

    We had an informal one, 20 odd years after a lot of us had left school and each other!
    It was lovely to reconnect, and see that the ‘mean’ girls weren’t actually mean anymore and the wallflowers had blossomed, and the madcap ones were full blown nutters!

    • dgkaye

      Lol Ritu, it’s interesting to look back and see how people have grown and changed. Some stay the same and some never change – even the hair style, lol! 🙂 x

  • Balroop Singh

    Wow! What a story! Deb I like the way you have described your trepidation and finally joining the high school reunion…it brought back some memories, as I too considered myself an unsocial ugly duckling but isn’t it fun to be with those old friends and feel the elation of having grown into a swan? I am glad you enjoyed and met some friends who could recognise you!
    I would love to attend such a reunion. Actually I have been to one but that was a college batchmates reunion long time ago to celebrate 25 years of passing out and another is due now but we are placed apart, some in different countries and the ones sitting in the same city have been trying hard to bring all of us together. Hopefully it would work out before we loose our teeth! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing a wonderful post.

    • dgkaye

      Lol Balroop, I do hope you work out your reunion. And it’s refreshing to hear that you are interesting in participating. Many here seemed to feel the same apprehension I did. Once was enough for me. 🙂

  • Joy Lennick

    Hi Debby, You, unattractive?! Oh come on…..Funny how we see ourselves when younger… I too was shy while friendly. As a war was waging in the UK and elsewhere…(the second) I was evacuated three times to different places and attended seven schools in all,ending up at Pitman’s college to do a Secretarial course. There were no reunions then, so no problem, although I would have enjoyed meeting up with a few of the girls in later years. One I was friendly with for a few years, ‘stole’ my boy-friend at the time and married him. (I actually chuckled when I heard they divorced….) But my best friend at college remained so for many years, and we still – so many years later, keep in touch, although she lives in Wales and I in Spain. Hugs xx

    • dgkaye

      Hi Joy. Thanks so much for sharing your wartime childhood snippets here. I completely understand, and have no doubts you’re a social butterfly, lol. I was an awkward looking teen and far from the ‘with it’ crowd back then. But the Phoenix finally rose through lots of experience and determination to come out of my shell, I am not that wallflower girl of long ago either. <3 xx

  • Pete Springer

    I don’t think I’ll ever attend one; high school was my least favorite time in life. I kept to myself for the most part because I wasn’t particularly confident. I’m much more extroverted and happier now, so never say never. I guess I’m a bit of a late bloomer who has no desire to return to those days.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Pete. I’m with you on all counts. It’s so funny to read so many comments from writers who prefer to not attend as I did myself. Well, I went out of curiosity, glad I did, and once was enough, lol. 🙂

  • Donna W. Hill

    Debby, I too was shy with long blonde hair and few fond memories of school. I’ve never been to a reunion, though I thought back then in high school that I really wanted to show them that I was somebody. I don’t think I’ll be going to any reunions. I will just have that experience from yours. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Lol, thanks Donna. You certainly aren’t alone on that thinking! I really hesitated to go but went more out of curiosity that anything else. I’m done being curious. LOL 😉

  • Mary Smith

    I went to one school reunion and realised there’s a reason why I have friends from school I still see often and others with whom I don’t keep in touch.

  • Amy M Reade

    I’m so glad I finally got to this post! I’ve been meaning to read it for almost a week now. I have never been to a high school reunion, and I don’t see myself going to one. I’ve thought about it, sure, but each time I’ve decided there’s a reason I didn’t stay in contact with most of those people. I’m okay with my decision.

  • Christoph Fischer

    Fascinating article. I have a 30 years reunion on this July and I frankly cannot be bothered. There are a few people I’d like to see again but I doubt the format of self-presentation and showing-off would be a good setting for that. Life is too short, so I may not get there to make that once-is-enough experience and just take your word for it, as it so strongly resonates my expectations.
    Hugs
    X

    • dgkaye

      Like I mentioned to Norah earlier, I wish I’d taken a poll before going. The comments from other writers are astounding, most wouldn’t go. I should have stuck to my initial feeling, but it’d done now. I’d much rather go to a bloggers reunion, with the people I share a common interest in. 🙂 <3

  • Norah Colvin

    Interesting, Debby. I’ve only been to one school reunion, but it was at either the 10 or 20-year mark and not far enough removed for my purposes. I don’t remember much about it. My best friend wasn’t there and I had no real interest in catching up with many of the others. While I might be interested in finding out what they have accomplished, I’d rather do it through an intermediary rather than in person. I was pleased when my school days were over and used the opportunity of going to college as a way of reinventing myself. I didn’t want to be that shy, timid child any longer. I think your experience convinces me that there’s really no pleasure in going back.

    • dgkaye

      If I would have brought up this post before going, taking polls, I’m convinced I would never have gone, lol. There’s an old saying: Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. 🙂 x

  • Jeri

    I had no desire to go to my ten-year reunion, and I sort of wanted to go to my twenty-year reunion, but my world had changed completely and a trip back home for that wasn’t going to be in the cards. Then when I got my diagnosis, people from high school whom I hadn’t talked to in years donated to my campaign. I will probably try to go to the next one.

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Very brave and courageous of you Debby to attend.. And loved your account of your reunion .. And the bus journey too and from school, something I remember well too from my village to my school from age 11 to 15 when I left..

    I remember one time my younger sister inviting me to a reunion when I had been married about four years, I considered it for a second and said no.. I didn’t have any real friends at school. I was a bit of a loner, and the friend I thought I had I caught making fun of me and my home made uniform one day, so found out the hard way who was friend and who was foe.

    It must be great if you had loads of friends and loved school, but school to me held dread, a place where even teachers made fun of those not so well off..

    But I have one thing to thank my English Teacher for, who took me under wing and introduced me to the world of make believe, where I would sit at school break times and read magical adventures.. I have a lot to thank my old English teacher Mrs Woodhouse was her name.. Bless her.. She was due to retire the year after I left school but passed away on her last term..
    Now if she had been there, maybe I would have gone to say thank you, who knows.. 🙂

    Many thanks Debby for sharing your evening reunion with us..
    Much love

    • dgkaye

      Thank you for sharing something of yourself here too Sue. Don’t get the wrong impression, I was a lot like you (not surprising). I didn’t have many school friends, as I too was much of a loner hiding a big personality. I should have consulted with you first before going LOL. Once was enough to see what I wasn’t missing all those years. <3 xox

  • Liesbet

    What a nice and fun reunion account, Debby! I’m glad you went. I thought you’d be curious about how everyone looked and aged. 🙂

    I’d love to go to reunions, but 1) I’d never be in Belgium when they would happen and 2) as far as I know nobody ever bothered to organize one, either from high school or college. This, I find sad. I’d love to find out how everyone is faring – especially an ex-boyfriend – and to re-connect. Although, I think most conversations would be brief and awkward anyway.

    I was one of the few kids who went to a high school 20 minutes away from the town I lived in, so like you, nowhere near my neighborhood.

    One summer, when someone who I went to high school with (can’t call her a friend, really) and who also loves to travel, heard I was visiting, she put a small gathering together at a restaurant, which was nice. We still remembered each other’s faces, but some names didn’t come to me. Luckily, she could fill me in. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing your experience with reunions Liesbet. What a lovely gesture for someone who you weren’t even friends with to put that little get-together on for you. Yes, I went out of curiosity, but really, I’d have been fine not going too. 😉

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