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Reunited, and it felt so good

Last weekend, I attended my 25-year high school class reunion. Rhetorically asking, “Where has all the time gone?” has never been so appropriate.

And yes, it feels like yesterday I was 18 and ready to tackle the world.

Back in 1990, I was just getting started shaping my future. I really don’t recall having a serious care or concern amounting to what I would later experience in my adult life.

Especially in my 30s.

I had other pressing issues on my mind. Including how big I could make my long permed hair. Or which pool I wanted to spend my last summer vacation days sunning by before starting college. Life was simple. As it should be. If I live to 100 — a quirky goal of mine — 18 is a small blip on the radar of my life. That age is just the beginning of adulthood, the short introduction to a long story with as many plot twists as a Hitchcock movie.

I’ve had life moments when I’ve felt like Melanie in “The Birds.”

I always enjoy seeing old friends from high school. I grew up in a small town with a high school of about 700 kids, so many of us were close. My classmates and I spent our childhoods and adolescent years together, seated side-by-side in classrooms or assigned lockers next to each other. We learned everything from multiplication tables and sentence structure to how to play kick ball and skate at our resident rink, the Roller Cave.

I always wanted to learn to roller skate backwards.

At the reunion, we had a few ways for people to celebrate the 25 years that had passed. We had a small group show up for a tour of the high school. I had been back a few times since graduating, but hadn’t seen the new swimming pool or the spacious auditorium. Both were impressive, and I’m happy for the kids who can enjoy these improvements to a high school I still love.

I’m kind of into that school spirit thing.

Walking the halls of the high school jogged my memory of being a teenager again. Seeing the journalism room where we published our yearbooks reminded me of life before the Internet and digital photography. The school cafeteria, where a coin-operated jukebox once played “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts during my elementary school years, felt as familiar as my childhood home where my parents still live.

I could almost smell the square sausage pizza and side of corn served on Fridays.

The females in the group found ourselves popping in the girls’ bathroom on the main floor to giggle, a place where more hair spray was consumed than backstage at a Poison concert. We remembered more mirrors lining the walls because, well, it was the ‘80s. We recalled how girls would crowd that bathroom every morning, sitting cross-legged on the floor to apply extra eyeliner and spray that final coat of Aqua Net before the school day began.

We sure were something.

Our tour guide, the high school’s dean, had a chuckle over our excitement we had in seeing that old bathroom again. He was also a 1990 graduate, but at a rival school, so we reminded him how important that particular part of the school was to a teenage girl back then.

It was all about the hair, people.

Our reunion continued with a small cookout that found us mostly sitting indoors around long tables because of the threat of rain. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in decades. We reminisced over prom and senior pictures and flipped through our yearbooks, commenting on the big hair and mullets and how young we all were back then. We wondered what happened to certain teachers and where a few people we hadn’t heard from disappeared to after graduation. Then we found them on Facebook.

And we realized we weren’t in 1990 anymore.

Later that evening, we reunited at the town bar called the Round the Corner Pub that used to be the post office. We always met in the parking lot of that post office to start homecoming parades featuring court princesses in convertibles wearing poofy dresses and Powder Puff female flag football players with black paint under their eyes in the backs of pick-up trucks. I remember feeling pretty tough as a Powder Puffer.

As tough as that sounds.

We pulled some tables together at the pub, ordered pizza and read our senior wills, one of our graduation traditions. My will mostly involved inside jokes about spring break in Daytona Beach and stuff I shouldn’t have been doing as a 17-year-old. We laughed along to karaoke. As the only one pregnant at the reunion, I skipped my usual rendition of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard, opting for Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” instead.

I wasn’t voted craziest girl in my class for nothing.

April E. Clark can’t hit Madonna’s high notes. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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