I posted yesterday about visiting Emma’s aunt and uncle, who are also former classmates of mine. D did not attend our ten-year high school reunion, but I did. He asked me who was there and I could barely remember.
“It was one night four years ago,” I told him as an apology for not being able to name everyone I saw. The discussion, of course, continued about what has happened to some of the people with whom we went to high school. When I returned home, I pulled out my yearbook from my junior year and started looking through photos and names.
I pointed out to Chris some of the important people, told stories of who they married, which ones were no longer with us, which ones were my closest friends, the male teachers who were perverts, the teachers I liked the most and the ones who were not so good at their jobs.
It was a living moment from “The Obvious Child” by Paul Simon:
Sonny sits by his window and thinks to himself
How it’s strange that some rooms are like cages
Sonny’s yearbook from high school is down from the shelf
And he idly thumbs through the pages
Some have died
Some have fled from themselves
Or struggled from here to get there
What struck me most looking through those faces and names on the pages was how much I don’t remember. I knew those people enough to write their names over photos where the name wasn’t included, so that years later I would know who was in one photo or another. But now, fourteen years later, I have a vague idea that I once knew who those people were. I passed them in the hallways, sat with them in classes, watched them play sports or act in school plays. They were a part of my life for several years. They mattered.
But other than those who I was closest to or who I have kept in touch with over the years, even just on social networking sites, I don’t remember them. I just remember that I knew them at one time. The names, even the faces, are familiar. But that’s as far as it goes.
It’s so odd to me that they have become ghosts from the past, and nothing more. There was a time where I said I really enjoyed high school and would gladly do it over again. I still will say I had a great time during that time of my life. I had great friends and we had great fun and I will have those memories for the rest of my life, as well as the friends who managed to survive as part of my life through the years. And while I would love to be so carefree again, I think I prefer the woman I am over the child I was. I can see in myself that I’ve grown not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. The world, life in general, is about more than my latest crush, more than trips to the mall and seeing my friends in my next class. More than getting down to Elmira to hit Pudgie’s Pizza (good as it is). It’s more important, fuller. My priorities are loftier.
And I think it would be interesting to throw that entire group of people together again to see what happens now that we’re adults. Some of those people were quite mean to others. There was a lot of animosity, sometimes over very trivial things. Have we outgrown that? I see adults treating each other much the same as they treated each other as teens. But I hope that the people I knew in Horseheads High School are better than that. I hope we learned a long time ago that compassion and love are more important than who has the designer clothes and whose car cost more.
To my classmates and beyond: We survived together in the jungle. Let’s hope we will survive together in the desert.