As I walked into the hotel which hosted by 40th high school reunion, my heart was racing and my palms were sweating. As soon as I checked in, my fears could not have vanished faster.
As part of Pittsburgh Magazine’s focus on what makes the place we call home special, this month we look at those rights of passage that every Pittsburgher needs to experience. “101 Things Every Real Pittsburgher Must Do” runs the gamut from ride an incline to eat a Smiley cookie.
Not on the list, but arguably an important part of the journey of life, is to attend a class reunion. It’s a topic so fraught with emotion that it has been the subject of numerous movies, although none can top “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” in my book.
This summer I went to my high school reunion (Ringgold Class of 1979) even though I had some trepidation about reliving the awkwardness of high school. I hadn’t seen most of my classmates in years and some not since I walked across the stage at the Aquatorium in Monongahela to receive my diploma. In my mind, they were locked in a time capsule that I was about to open with a feeling of impending doom usually reserved for horror movie moments. (Why do they always open the scary box?)
As I walked into the hotel with my heart racing and my palms sweating, I screwed up my courage and told myself that I could always leave early if the going got tough.
My fears could not have vanished faster.
From the moment I checked in, I was surrounded by friendly — if not familiar — faces. The name tags with our high school photos on them were beyond helpful as well as a tangible reminder of how long ago high school was. But even though we had lost our youth over those 40 years, we had not lost our youthfulness. The evening was full of laughter and joy at reconnecting with people who once were the center of our world. We shared the journeys we each took, celebrating our milestones and commiserating with the tribulations we all faced.
It was heartening to see the confident and assertive adults we had become. The unsure teenagers we were would never have told the DJ to turn the music down and the lights up after he decided it was time to dance. “It’s not our prom,” one person spoke up.
It wasn’t our prom; it was so much better.