Those four years were not all pompoms and pimple free — there was plenty of shame and heartache — but there was something inherently special about our class. There just was. Even the teachers said so. Even the teachers said so which is blazingly ironic because we were no band of do-gooders. Maybe it’s because there were only about 80 of us and the small numbers were in our favor. Maybe we just lucked into the right mix of personalities and angst and senses of humor. Or maybe it wasn’t so much the 4 years we spent trapped in that building of lockers as the small, ongoing kindnesses we kept going for the next 30 years.
I rarely meet anyone who keeps in touch with high school friends. “High school” is the place you run from …. and you keep running lest it catch up with you and torture you some more. When you tell someone you’re going to a high school reunion they look at you like you need psychotropic medication. I used to try to explain it to my husband, but it wasn’t until my mother died that he got it. Who hauled me out of the hospital and the nursing home during those last days and weeks, without fail, for meals and sanity checks? Who knew when tequila was needed? Who made up the biggest group in the church? Who were the only people who showed up at the wake with soft drinks and Dixie cups and napkins and platters of cold cuts and homemade cakes? These are my people. I haven’t had to explain it since.
In 30 days I’ll be heading home to Southeast Missouri for my 30 year high school reunion, where we will drink icy beers and hug necks and laugh too loud and tell all of the same old stories. We will insist we have not aged. Penny and Joe will do the Stray Cat Strut. Seyer will lead us in Takin’ Care of Business. We will crank up this Hank Williams Jr. number and link our arms and kick off our shoes and belt out every word like it’s our last. Really now, who would run from that?
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