The invitation came the way most of them do in this day and age—through Facebook. I even printed it out, though I’m still trying to figure out why.
It’s been sitting there on my desk for about three weeks now. Every once in a while I’ll move it from one side to the other in order to make room for books or other papers or, once, a baseball bat. Sometimes when it’s late I’ll pick it up and read over it. But I haven’t done anything about it. I’ve neither accepted nor declined.
I will say this—it took me by surprise. I’m not sure how I managed to forget that this year marks the twentieth since my high school graduation, but I did. Blame it on the busyness of my everyday, I suppose. I have so many gotta-do-this-now things to keep in my head that there isn’t much room for the it-can-waits. The thing about growing older is that time is no longer measured in days or weeks, but in years. I could once look back and see yesterday for what it truly was—the day before today. Now I look back and see that what I consider yesterday really happened ten years ago.
Yet there it is, a notice for my high school reunion.
And here I am, wondering if I will attend or not.
There were about a hundred students in my graduating class. Big, considering ours was a much smaller town then. I’d gone to school with the vast majority of them since the third grade, which means that during what many say are the most important years of a person’s life, they were my surrogate family. I fought with some of them, loved some of them, and shared my life with some of them.
And I grew up with all of them.
I suppose that’s why high school classmates continue to have such a hold on people years after they walk across a stage to take hold of that Get Out of Jail Free card known as the diploma. They were our first peers. By them we first tried to figure out who and what we were.
High school seems so important while we’re there; within those walls lays our entire world. Love and friendships are pledged to be never ending and strong enough to withstand any storm or circumstance.
Future plans are set in what we think is stone but is really sand.
Most of us have gone our separate ways, leaving this small town at the foot of the mountains to find paths that lead nowhere in particular but elsewhere in general. Most have moved on to cities. Others have moved on to other countries. Some have moved on from this life. I still see a few classmates around town every once in a while. We’ll chat and laugh and remember old times, and then we’ll part ways and return to our old lives until we both happen to get groceries or gas at the same time again.
Those people are memories to me. Nothing more. Whispers of a life I once had and don’t really care to remember. I am nostalgic, but not for my teenage years.
But honestly, between you and me? That’s not why I’m waffling about going. The real reason is that even though I haven’t seen most of them in two decades and even though I hated high school, what they think of me somehow still seems to matter. A lot.
And I bet I’m not the only one.
I bet right now there are more than one of my former classmates pondering the very questions I am right now—Should I go? What does it matter? Why does it matter?
That first question is still up in the air. Those last two, though? I think I have answers to those.
It isn’t the prospect of seeing them. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that along the highways of my life I have run upon this signpost, one that doesn’t tell me how far I have yet to go, but how far I’ve come.
Because in our own unique ways, our high school classmates are all prodigal sons and daughters who have left and vowed not to return until they’ve made something of themselves.
And so my question is this—What have I made of myself?
It’s a subject I’ll ponder before I decide if I’ll attend and after I ponder another, more important one—Why have I waited twenty years to ask myself that question?