I’m officially old. I’ve been out of high school for ten years. Most of the time it still feels like I’m in college, so high school wasn’t THAT far away, right? Wrong.
If you didn’t go to a tight-knit all-girls school that you actually liked, you probably went to your reunion begrudgingly or skipped it. Our was an all-girls party where you could drink and wander around the school. My close friends were planning to go back, so of course, I signed up.
It was surreal to be back in the building I pretty much lived in for four years. Granted I was back five years ago for my five-year reunion to play flip cup and dance to Celine Dion in the cafeteria. Today it looks mostly the same. They painted over the mermaid mural in the bathroom. The state championship banners, which were made by the teams who won using a bed sheet and iron on letters, have been replaced by official ones printed on tarps. They have paper towels instead of hand dryers. The curtain on the stage is new. There’s a fresh coat of paint on the lockers (finally red) and a bunch of much cooler stuff for sale in the bookstore. There’s a big, beautiful new gym!
Lots of things are exactly how I left them, forever sealed in the vault of high school.
Everyone commented on how the bathrooms smell the exact same. I can’t name it, but it’s a distinct scent of old building and cleaner. We saw most of our names were painted over in the cave, but it looks the same. Some of our teachers were back, they are just as I remembered them. Most of the classrooms looked pretty similar. The little theater was just as little as it was during STUCO meetings.
We tapped into our collective memory wandering around saying things like, “Remember this was our homeroom sophomore year?” “Were you in Ms. Weil’s calc with me in here?” “Remember when this closet was used as the Latin classroom for a year?” “Did you ever have the elevator key?” “Were these windows always stained glass?”
Some of my friends have remained the same. We grew in the same direction. We kept laughing at the same jokes. We made time to see each other whenever we were in town. We share reading recommendations and wedding planning tricks. We dance to Celine Dion, but not in the cafeteria anymore.
But more than that, I’ve changed.
I’m older and hopefully smarter. I’ve seen more and done more. I’ve read more books and asked more questions. I’ve worked, for real, and lived in apartments and houses, not with my parents. I’ve rented cars and written papers.
Still, it’s nice to go back and see what hasn’t changed to remind me that I have. And that’s a good thing. Every ten years or so, we should see some personal progress.