I just got home from the final (and best) 25th high school reunion event of the weekend.
Reunions for my H.S. are not the run of the mill variety–the school KNOWS how to do a reunion, that's for sure. The whole process started more than a year ago. A long standing tradition at my H.S. is that the 24th reunion class sponsors and organizes the school's HUGE reunion weekend luau (yes, as I'm from Hawai'i, we're talkin' a real live luau with many pigs cooked in a traditional underground Hawaiian oven or imu). Last year, a huge crew of classmates of mine spent months and countless hours planning, organizing, picking fresh flowers and foliage for decorations, etc.). This year, as the 25th reunion class, we were one of the classes receiving special recognition during alumni weekend. Over 190 of my class of 396 students made it back for reunion weekend. I don't know what most schools' reunion statistics are like, but I find that number to be pretty amazing given than I'd guess that at least a third of our classmates no longer live in the islands and had to fly in from all over the world with spouses and families in tow.
Friday night was a cocktail party for graduates and spouses (no kiddies) at a hoity toity supper club in downtown Honolulu. Unfortunately, Friday was also one of the worst travel days of the entire year as one of the FAA's main computers crashed in Atlanta causing, literally, thousands of delays in the East Coast and Mid-West. Unfortunately, my flight originated in Chicago with a stopover to pick us up before heading into Honolulu so my flight got delayed for a full five hours. I missed more than half of the cocktail party, but as the saying goes, "Better late than dead …" (or something to that effect …) and I enjoyed the time that I got to spend there.
Saturday was the official school sponsored alumni luau where all of the classes who's years ended in 2 or 7 (as in class of 1982 or class of 2007) celebrated together. We gathered on campus for a more infromal after party on the steps of the library and had a pretty nice time together late into the night (fortunately the school is located on 76 acres and the library is in the middle so the neighbors didn't grouse).
Finally, we got together for a last time at a bowling alley that some of our classmates bought and are running. They poured a ton of money into this place and have turned it into a very successful bowling alley/restaurant/bar. They closed the place down for four hours and we got to bowl, drink, eat, and visit. It was a lot more relaxed and was far and away my favorite event of the weekend. One of the coolest things is that the lanes could be programmed so that each time it was one of the younger kids turn to bowl, rails would rise up and block off the gutters so that they couldn't miss. Unfortunately for me, it meant that in my first game in more than 30 years, I lost Emma, my friends' four-year-old daughter. Fortunately, I made a comeback and bowled a LOT better in the subsequent games (at least breaking into triple digits … I know … sad … but true …).
All in all, it was a lot of fun. It is strange to meet up with people–most of whom you haven't seen in 25 years for a weekend reunion. It's weird because you have this really long standing bond and a wealth of common experiences, but at the same time you're now all in very different places. Fortunately, the social crap from middle and high school was gone, but I did find that some of my old emotional baggage and insecurity re-surfaced. I really have to say that EVERYONE that I met was completely friendly and great so the issues and "baggage" were completely my own. I hate that they are still there, but I'd be lying if I said that they weren't. The chubby shy kid that I was in H.S. is apparently still alive, he just usually doesn't make it to the surface and make me not do things our of insecurity fear.
More than anything, this weekend underscored the fact that, while I actually had a pretty good time in H.S. and truly am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the school from which I graduated, I'm REALLY glad that it's over and done with. Life's too good and too blessed where I am right now …