In a week I fly to Hawaii for my 30th Punahou high school reunion.
And I’m mildly terrified.
I haven’t been to a high school reunion since our unofficial “4 year” reunion—one thrown while most of us were seniors in college, home for Christmas, and someone figured there was a better chance of getting a good number then than at our 5th year reunion when many of us would actually have jobs and only 2 weeks of vacation/year.
Why haven’t I gone back all these years?
- Money: It’s darn expensive to fly to Hawaii. Especially with a family of 5
- Priorities: During my 5th and 10th reunions I was either participating in or running an intensive summer urban missions project for college students and couldn’t afford the time away.
- Timing: The reunion’s always at the beginning of June. Here in Boston, our kids don’t get out of school until at best mid-late June. This year, because of snow days, our kids last day of school is June 26th!!!
So I determined that I would make it to my 30th come hell or high water. I justified the expense of money, time and priorities with the importance of seeing my parents. But it turns out that they’re sitting at my dining room right this moment eating breakfast because my mother’s 55th Wilson College reunion’s in Pennsylvania this weekend. They’re flying home a day or two before I arrive.
I didn’t think much about the upcoming reunion until I got back from the Middle East. Then it sunk in that I was going to see folks I haven’t seen in 27.5-30 years. And the nerves began.
On one hand, I feel ridiculous about being nervous. I’m a middle-aged woman. I’ve been through therapy. I trust that I’m loved by God, created to be a blessing, and my self-esteem shouldn’t be swayed by the opinions of those with whom I spent my most formative years of life. I even have a loving husband and 3 awesome kids—the main badge of honor at reunions from what I’ve seen in movies.
But still. . .
- I’m grayer, 25 pounds heavier and now wear progressive glasses
- I’m coming alone with no husband or kids to flaunt. (Kids staying so they won’t miss school. Husband staying so kids won’t be abandoned for the 4th time this school year. And have I said that it’s darn expensive to fly from Boston to Hawaii?)
- As a budding sociologist back then, I was intensely aware of how we grouped ourselves by ethnicity, class, popularity, interests and more. As a “poor” scholarship kid who wore hand-me-down clothes and spent only 2.5 years in Hawaii (with a year in China and a semester in NY), I knew I didn’t quite fit—being away so much meant I didn’t get to bond.
- My best friend from high school won’t go with me and keep me company.
What if no one talks to me? What if we have nothing to say? Even worse, what if no one remembers me?
Despite all these jitters, I’m going and I’ll try to smile and hold my head up even with my fears and trepidations. Because if there’s anything I’m learning as I grow older, it’s that it’s always worth it to connect. It’s always worth it to reach out. Fear drives us toward isolation. But risking and trusting that others may be shaking in their boots but wanting to re-connect also, even with added pounds, gray hairs and wrinkles, is always worth it.
Punahou class of ’83? I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.