This past Saturday was Woodland High School Class of 2001’s Ten-Year Reunion. I was so unbelievably curious, even nervously excited about what the experience would be like. I feel that, like many life experiences, my expectations were not really met, forcing me afterwards to judge the experience not by whether or not it met my expectations but by some other standard.
I’m still processing the 3-4 hour gathering at Big Al’s in Vancouver, not totally sure what to think of it. It was really a bit surreal, and I can’t quite think of the word for it at the moment, other than “odd.” But that makes it sound bad. More accurately, the night was kind of a mix of good and bad…
- The waitress forgot one of my drinks, and brought me a free pint as compensation. Yay.
- I recognized all but one classmate (was a little nervous about this beforehand). Percentage-wise, that’s an A! Her hair was red; it used to be dark.
- I had a brief but touching (for me) conversation with a classmate who seemed to have faced a few more challenges than one often faces in their early to mid-twenties, yet who seemed to possess such a peaceful, regretless attitude about his life, able to see the value in his experiences and count his challenges as lessons learned. I'm sure many others that night, had I talked with them at length, would have displayed a similar gain in that kind of wisdom that seems to come mainly through trial and tribulation.
- For the most part, I was really proud of my classmates for being friendly and kind to each other, mostly crossing old social lines that can be really hurtful for some in high school. I know not everyone’s an extrovert, but I saw several classmates eager to make others feel noticed, included, and cared for. (BUT, see “Bad” section below.)
- As I mentioned elsewhere a couple days ago, the conversation between my nuclear engineer and environmental lawyer friends (Sarah and Amanda) was especially fun. I mostly listened and, with the help of best buddy Brad, playfully heckled. But it’s fun to see the paths classmates have taken and what they’ve made of their lives thus far. A lot of that discovery of self and vocation happens after high school, so it’s not always clear who people are “becoming” when they are teenagers. It’s inspiring to see people who are doing something they really believe in and love.
- I told a couple people that the person I was most looking forward to seeing was Wes Sadlier. I’m not totally sure why. We were on a lot of baseball teams together growing up and eventually golfing buddies later in high school. But Wes didn’t come. Where art thou, Wes Sadlier? You broke my heart this weekend.
- The food was great…Mexican-style buffet. But I was too distracted by catching up with people and was too giddy and nervously excited to eat. That combined with bowling only one game didn’t exactly allow me to get my money’s worth in activities. But time with old friends is priceless, or something.
- Despite my praise for my classmates, I could sense a little bit of discomfort for some about old groups. On one hand, it’s natural to flock to your friends, your own social group, your cliques. On the other hand, outsiders often have a hard time breaking in when established groups don’t make the effort to open wide the doors. This is one thing that often disappoints me about churches that are heavily made up of young people; my experience is that they don’t excel at greeting and welcoming new faces, often preferring the comforts of what is familiar.
- There were 24 (25? 26?) of my classmates there out of (I think) 107 with whom I graduated. That was a bit disappointing. Some I’m sure couldn’t make it because of geographical distance. Some may have had babysitting issues. The cost, maybe. Some probably were just indifferent about the event (hard for me to imagine as excited as I was). Some may not have known about it, because of the use of Facebook to advertise it (there are still people not on Facebook, believe it or not). Sadly, some may have not come out of some kind of fear, shame, embarrassment, or avoidance; I hope the number of this last type of absentee was few.
- Mike Rogers’ first interaction with my wife was not a hello or handshake, but the classic tap-the-shoulder-and walk-the-other-way move that has fooled many throughout human history. Nice work, Mike.
- Joanna Johnson didn’t exactly leap for joy when my wife Joann’s first comment to her was “Joanna, weather girl, right?” (in reference to her “role” in my morning video broadcast that was part quasi-news show and part outlet for my buddies’ and my humor and imagination. Apparently she doesn’t want to be remembered as the “weather girl.”)
- I beat my wife and the four others in my lane at bowling. So, I’m awesome, I guess.
- The experience reminded me of the “Lost” finale in ways, except I don’t believe anyone had to wait outside to face their un-dealt-with demons before being ready to enter. I didn’t see Wes Sadlier. Maybe he was outside dealing with his demons.