I can’t believe it, just as no one can believe it: the famous 50th high school reunion has cropped up on me. The sentiments have long been expressed: it went so fast. It seems like a cliché, the 50th… are we really that old?
And then there’s the big sigh. And the big question we each ask the one or two friends we’ve stayed in touch with all these years. “Are you going to go?” And, “What’s the point?”
This sigh is different from the ones you may have had in response to earlier reunions. The 10th reunion is about competition left over from high school – seeing who’s still hot, who got fat, who has the better job, who is married, who has kids.
High school rivalries, insecurities, and cliques are still in play. There’s still the possibility of connecting with a former love – or finding a new love.
Well, that’s a possibility at every reunion, isn’t it? Rekindling.
The 20th reunion is when we’re well on our way in life, though still comparing careers, children, marriages made, divorces, money earned or not.
At the 30th, we’re in our primes, and people are on second careers, divorced, starting over, moving. Life has been “felt.” You are who you are and where you are in your life, and for the most part, people have stopped comparing.
The 40th rolls around and you can’t believe you’re – OMG! – 60! We quietly compare the wear and tear on our bodies. It’s a very relaxed reunion.
Which is why when you get to the 50th, you think, what’s the point? To see how old we’ve become? To see who looks older or “worse” than you do? (“Who are all these old people?”)
Now it’s the grandchildren game – who’s got some, who’s got none. Who’s living the happiest retirement, who’s still proud to be working, and who’s not happy to be working.
The 50th is the reunion many people opt out of, thinking, “I don’t need to do this again. We won’t ever see each other again. What do we have in common really, anyway?”
When I was on the fence about going, I asked our reunion coordinator (bless his heart!!!) to send me a list of deceased classmates. Shock. Dismay.
That did it. They couldn’t go to the reunion, but I could.
You should go to your 50th reunion for the simple fact and joy that you’re still alive. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to attend. Being alive is the point: it’s everything. If your class decides to hold a reunion after the 50th, an even higher percentage will be gone.
I didn’t particularly want to go to my 50th, but when I asked myself the question I always ask myself when I’m waffling about something, “Would you regret it if you didn’t go?” my answer was yes.
Yes, I would regret not going. I would always wonder. I would say to myself: why were you being so silly? I booked the plane and the hotel immediately and rallied my friends to join me.
The 50th reunion is not about comparing anymore. Nor is it time to talk about the past as we did at other reunions. Rather, it’s about meeting as adults with long, rich lives behind us.
We meet each other anew, fresh, like new people at a great cocktail party. We meet with compassion and love, peace and goodwill. Now it’s time to talk about the present, how the world got to be the way it is, politics, cultural events, and how we plan to live our old age.
Your high school class is a group of people like no other. Many of your high school classmates you’ve known since kindergarten! That’s pretty amazing.
And for better or worse, you spent the formative years of your crucial, memorable, tortured adolescence together. You are bound together by a collective consciousness that is precious and rare.
Go, if for no other reason then just because it’s an iconic thing to do — “to go to your 50th high school reunion.” Join the club, join the conversation.
As I navigate in my present day world, I meet people and tell them I’m going to my 50th, and many of them say, “Oh, it’s great, I went to mine!”
Join the party! Adolescence is iconic, it never changes its stripes no matter how much tech is in the picture. Well, so is a 50th high school reunion an iconic thing to do.
If I have made one person, who reads this article, decide to go to their 50th reunion, I will consider my job well done! Next up: a report on what happened at that memorable event!
What is your reasoning for going (or not going) to your 50th high school reunion? If you already went, any thoughts to share? Let’s hear details from the frontlines!