A High School Reunion I actually enjoyed
If old friends are gold, I have to admit I never polish the jewelry. I'm horrible at keeping in touch. Case in point: my old high school buddies. We were one of the smallest classes (ranging over the years between 13 and 20 girls), so you'd think we'd be one of the closest, but when we graduated high school I entered the world of universities and engineering and never looked back. The occasional nights out with my high school friends grew fewer and fewer, and when I left for graduate studies in the US I drifted even further away, literally and figuratively. Every time I went back to the Philippines for a visit there always seemed to be some other event I had to attend instead of rustling up the old gang for a night out. If it weren't for Facebook, I'd have totally lost touch; as it is, my contact with all but one or two high school friends has been limited to writing on each other's Facebook walls.
Come to think of it, it was probably Facebook walls that set the whole thing in motion; one of my high school classmates must have been reading them and realized that quite a few of the expatriates in our class would be visiting the Philippines over the holidays. A couple of weeks ago, she suggested getting together for dinner. Somehow or other, the stars aligned in our favor, and we found ourselves facing the prospect of an actual class reunion, 20 years after graduation, with about two-thirds of the class scheduled to be there.
High school reunions? Aren't those the dinners from hell where everyone makes awkward small talk and gets to laugh at the ones who've gotten fat and done nothing with their lives? The last thing I wanted to do was talk about the graduate degrees gathering dust in the attic while I went about my life as a housewife. And I certainly wasn't eager to display the five extra pounds I've gained over the last two weeks to people who I haven't seen in twenty years. I actually had the perfect excuse not to attend — I've been on crutches since I twisted my knee on Christmas Eve. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see so many old friends.
It turns out, I needn't have worried. From the moment I hobbled into that restaurant my old friends greeted me as though I had never left the flock. Everyone declared that I hadn't changed a bit. I think they were just being nice; after all, it's not hard to notice the 30-odd pounds I've gained in the last 20 years (I knew I should have tried harder to get into shape before coming to Manila; damn you, holiday food!). I'm sure no one in that restaurant mistook us for a group of high school girls, but I found myself thinking the exact same thing about everyone else. I noticed a bit more makeup and jewelry, and yes, a few more pounds and wrinkles, but somehow everyone really did look exactly the same (Girls, please don't kill me over that last sentence; if it's any consolation, our hairstyles are soooo much better now than they were back then. Whoever convinced us poor, gullible girls that mullets were cool deserves to be shot).
And there was nothing small about our talk that night. With twenty years of catching up to do, there was barely enough time to cram it all into one dinner. We talked houses and jobs, husbands and sex, pregnancies and babies, gossip and scandal. A good portion of the conversation was devoted to trips down memory lane. Old faces and places came alive once more as we laughed over longstanding jokes and reminisced over the fun times we had. It was amazing how easily the conversation flowed. I heard about divorces and therapists, about postpartum depression and difficulties getting pregnant, and I found myself opening up in return. I'm not sure how Alfie will react when he realizes that a bunch of women he's never met know all about his sex life and sperm count, but these are my peeps and they'll carry my secrets to the grave.
My peeps. It's funny how I can even think that, given that it was just one dinner, after such a long time. But the bond of growing up together runs deep, even deeper than I realized. The girls I grew up with have turned out to be amazing women, funny and outspoken and supportive and sympathetic. Just as the Philippines will always be home to me, my high school friends will always be my friends. I'm so glad I attended this reunion and I hope we don't have to wait twenty years for the next one.
Original SV Moms post. You can find Bonggamom on her personal blog, Finding Bonggamom, as she chronicles her everyday life for family, friends, the blogosphere, and now, her old high school classmates, to read.