Monday, August 2, 2010

Two and Twenty Year Reunion

(second grade)

I had my first class reunion this weekend since graduating from high school OVER twenty years ago.

In fact, because our school was SO small (I was in a class of 37 ... 4 of whom were foreign exchange students,) that the reunion organizers decided to incorporate SIX graduation years (three on each side of ours) which just so happened to span the exact distance between me and my 2 siblings! And that was very nice since it seems that most of the classes all kinda hung out together as a group, not so much separated by graduating years, but more by interests (sports, band, college prep classes etc.)

But funny thing is ... walking into that room at the reunion, looking around, I thought I must be in the wrong place for sure, 'cuz these people were all much too old to be in our class!
Oh my, they should have had a mirror at the end of the check-in table for those like ME living in denial.  :-0
But everyone looked good--just an older version of that 17/18 year old that I remembered and for some reason I hadn't quite believed would age over time.
(seventh grade)

I gotta say though ... even I had my reservations about going. I wasn't sure if there would be anyone there whom might want to talk and what would Jeff think when he met my country-small-school-roots? Not that I have anything to hide ... but really ... I flashed back to the wall-flower days at school dances and computer science class before computers were something in everyday life ... and then by the time I called over 8 babysitters and got no reply from 4 to the messages I had left, and a "sorry I already have plans from the other 4--Those fears of seeing a class of people I really didn't have much in common with 20+ years ago grew quite quickly, and thoughts of not going seemed better and better.

(ninth grade--year of the BAD perm)

BUT I'm really not holding out for another one of these reunions to happen before I'm sixty! I mean, it's taken 22 years to organize this one. So I thought I'd better not chicken out.  I called my mom who was so sweet to watch the boys and took a deep breath ... and we went. And I'm glad I did  ... it went well, it was good to see so many people ... kinda like long, long, lost cousins from far away or something. Jeff chit-chatted with people ... it wasn't totally awkward. Funny thing was ... a good share of the people didn't have a clue--not an iota!-- who I was without me telling them.
The had a blank look when I would walk up with a "Hello!"... and a sheepish grin ...
and that pause that had to be followed by ... "I'm sorry, I can't seem to place you with a name" ... feeling a little guilty since I knew them, but they didn't know me.
And as I stumbled through my maiden name that I haven't used in 10 years which suddenly seemed strangely awkward when tagged in front of my married last name while standing there with my husband. (Who just smiled and nodded chuckling probably in his head when I told him while we were dating that I'd never change my last name for someone else. Oh he just knew that wasn't true didn't he.)
(Junior Year--finally contacts!)

All the times during middle and high school when I was so worried about what people might think ... quite honestly, I don't think they were thinking anything at all! (They were probably busy being concerned about what everyone else was thinking of them.) They didn't really know me ... in fact I don't think they really ever SAW me. And they certainly didn't hear me, because I was quiet as a mouse back then ... okay, I'm still quiet. But I will speak out when I have something to say.

It was just funny to kinda be back at square one with everyone. And with more years away from each other than we had spent together in our early years, life has filled each of us with good and bad experiences, mellowing attitudes and cliques and it was just fun to chat with folks and kinda, sorta get a clue on where they are now. It was good to chat and swap photos of kids and realize that we all had a few reservations about being there and what people might wonder about how we have and haven't changed over the years. But how glad we were that the other had chosen to come.

(Senior photo)

It's made me really think about the heart a lot lately and how God sees our hearts and not what's just visible on the outside. When Jeff has seen my photos while growing up, he's commented jokingly about it's a good thing we didn't meet earlier in our lives (okay, I'm going to admit ... I was a late bloomer ... and he's probably right, he would have had to dig pretty deep to find ME.)

But hearing that hurts regardless, because I know the same girl in the photos with the BIG hoot-owl glasses and the poofy 80's hair, who waited a long time as a wallflower at the school dances and prayed deeply that God would send some nice boys into her life (isn't that funny now that my house is FULL of boys?!) has the same exact heart as the one he fell in love with. --I'm also thinking that my parents and grandparents were pretty darn smart to keep me a bit sheltered from life and not in any hurry to get to the next stage too fast. I don't think I really wore make-up until my Jr. prom! But that's gonna be a whole 'nother post.) 

But, I guess, that heart is not exactly the same. It's been broken a few times and hurt more than I can count and it's been stretched a bunch and poured into more than I deserve too. God uses so many times and situations in our lives to mold character ... deep character ... for things that are not yet seen or even dreamed of.
So I'm reminded to dig deep in myself and others and to look a lot deeper too at the situations and people around me. It's so easy to get caught up in the now and the way things LOOK through the eyes of today ... but it's so much more rewarding and wise to see them from a bit further back and with a deeper heart.
(sixth grade ... top row, second from right, plaid shirt and short hair)

(July 31, 2010)


Tara Anderson said...

I've got small town country roots myself...there were 33 kids in my graduating class! We haven't had a reunion yet, but reading about yours makes me wonder what mine would be like! Glad you had fun!!!

Heather said...

I am so glad you had a good time. You are only 2 years younger than me!!!! I agree, when did we get older? I am planning to attend the 25th reunion next spring. I have never been to one, and am very nervous to go because I had a few friends in high school, but wasn't one of the popular either, I was a wall flower too. But with face book, I am friends with people I never thought I would be friends with! Funny how that works. Some of my good face book friends are people I didn't know hardly at all! God works in such mysterious ways!!!!!

Girly Girl Mommy said...

How much fun, Valerie!! I'm from a suburban school and had almost 400 in my class, and that was a smaller HS, lol! I went to my 5 year reunion but ditched my 10th to go on a weekend trip with my three best HS girlfriends instead. We figured we'd rather just have quality time to catch up with each other anyway. I'll have my 20th in 2 years. Maybe I'll go to that one?

Gretchen said...

You are beautiful inside and out, my friend!

The Sanders Family said...

Awww, I love this post Valerie! I love your heart. It's so genuine and real. And so filled with wisdom that only comes from allowing the Lord to shape you and mold you, in the good and the bad. You are beautiful, inside and out my dear. I think we've all gone through awkward stages. BIg hair, or braces, or whatever the case, God loves us anyways, inside and out. Thanks for challenging me to once again remember that, and to strive for His perspective of others always, not my own. Love you! Angie :)

Learning Together at Home said...

Valerie, I have so enjoyed getting to know you a bit - and this post confirms it!

TanyaLea said...

Oh Valerie ~ I love this post! It just confirms the genuine person that I already know you are!! I'm glad you went to your reunion. I'm looking forward to our 20 year next summer. I'm supposed to help with the planning, so I'm thinking that we'll be starting the footwork soon. Martin and I both graduated from the same class, so going to our reunions was fun. The last one we attended was the big 10 year. We graduated with 101 in our class...which was large at the time. Not anymore. Our 10 year was fun. It was neat to see the changes in people and the learn about their families. Most of the cliques had faded and we just enjoyed visiting with everyone. I made sure to reach out to some of my classmates spouses, as I know how awkward that can be. In any case, it was a fun time getting to know everyone all over again... more glimpses of the 'real' person that we may not have taken the time to get to know back in the day. I'm truly looking forward to the next reunion and pray we have a descent turnout. I loved your perspective in relation to how God sees us and always has! I think we all need to look through HIS lenses more often!

BTW, you looked GREAT as always!! :) ...not like someone who graduated back in '88! (more like '98!!) ;) Glad you had a nice time!

The family

The family