25 years is making me sick

I wrote the majority of this blog post yesterday.


Today is my 25th high school reunion. And I am terrified.

Circumstances have prevented me from attending any previous reunions, so this will be the first time that I have seen a lot of the people with whom I graduated.

And 25 years is a long time.

A lot years. A lot of changes. Both physically and emotionally.

This morning, what I am feeling is that I have come home again. And it is scary.

When I think about why I am feeling this way, I guess that I am not really that surprised. The people with whom I graduated were some of the most important people in my life from the ages of 5 to 18. Those years helped form the person that I am today, though they aren’t fully responsible for the person that I am today.

During those years, I wanted to fit in, be liked, have friends, be “one of the gang”….all those John Hughes’ 80’s movies clichés (those were the movies of my generation — Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). I struggled with all those big-screen emotions, all those insecurities, in my small-town life.

I have discovered that when my 43-year-old self is put back into the midst of my 18-year-old self dynamic, my 18-year-old self insecurities are revived.

It’s like going into a house of horrors — I think it’s going to be fun, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the shit scared out of me.

If I weren’t experiencing this, I would find this extremely interesting. Really, I find it interesting regardless. Do we ever outgrow our adolescent angst? Do those demons, the ones that were most prevalent through those most precious formative years, ever completely let go of our psyche? I am a much different person than the one I was 25 years ago, as I would assume all my classmates are, as well. The ways that I have changed, whether good or bad, have made me more comfortable with who I am than I was even last year. But….throw people who haven’t seen me in 25 years into the equation and BOOM! Terror. I think that I may be having one of those “too much in my head” moments.

So, Thomas Wolfe — you can go home again. And my trip is filling me with anxiety.



I had a lot of fun yesterday and it was really great to see so many people who I hadn’t seen in so many years.

And the greatest thing — I learned that many of us are in the same place in our lives. Questions about careers, family responsibilities, growing older, children, etc. We are all struggling with and celebrating many of the same life events and milestones. And with maturity, with the ability to look beyond myself, I can finally see how we all connect. And how we always did. But as that young, immature 18-year old, barely able to see beyond my own self and own needs, it was harder to see the connection that was there all long.

Perspective is a marvelous thing.

In memory

I am incredibly sad tonight.

Around 11 AM, I found out via Facebook that one of the firefighters killed in the Yarnell, AZ, fire was someone with whom I went to school from elementary through high school.  While I was in college, he was in a serious relationship for several years with one of my first cousins, so I would see him at holidays and other family events with her.

But my memories of Eric are not from those later years, but always from high school.  I remember a cute boy, a really good athlete, soft-spoken and somewhat socially awkward.

And I am saddened by his death.

I am also saddened by the tremendous wave of nostalgia that has engulfed me as all the memories of high school have flooded back as a result.

For me, this was the time in my life of true innocence.  I had yet to encounter anyone with an ulterior motive; good things seemed to happen to good people; I didn’t really know any “bad” people.  I was blessed beyond all measure.

Life was:  football games, homework, talking on the phone (a land line), passing notes (no texting), spending the summers at the lake, the smell of sweat in the school gym, cruising town on the weekends, going on dates, gossiping about who was dating who, trying to find enough money to go to McDonald’s after school, cheerleading practice, T-P’ing someone’s house….

That innocence, that fun, that lack of responsibility — it makes me sad to think about how I didn’t appreciate those wonderful days when I was there.

Everyone always says that “if they knew then, what they knew now….”   If I knew then, what I know now, I would breathe in even more precious minutes than I did.  Knowing now what I know now, there’s nothing stopping me from doing that.

And if I knew then, what I know now, I would take extra minutes to ask Eric (and Tammy, and Chuck, and Scott, and Kim and all the others that we have lost so young), “Hey!  Want to hang out?”

Have those lips been kissed?

Twice recently, I have received a bag or a box of memorabilia, mostly related to my father.  It has been wonderful either seeing pictures that I have never seen before or reliving old memories.

But it has also made me sad.  When my mom remarried and sold the house in which my sister and I grew up, I was in the midst of a depression.  We were cleaning out our childhood rooms and going through 25 years of accumulated detritus.  Since I was depressed, I had no sense of sentimentality, at all.  I threw away most of the keepsakes of my youth — pictures, yearbooks, awards.  I wish that I had kept all that stuff.

One thing that I DID keep was a poem.  It was written by Jim Maloney.  We went to school together from elementary school through high school graduation.

Jim may have written this to be satirical (I was often the butt of teasing because of my goody-two-shoes mentality, but my mother had me convinced that anything beyond chaste kissing would result in the total ruin of the rest of my life — no job, no husband, no family, no income — life in the street, living for handouts), but I have hung on to it, choosing instead to think of it as my own personal ode.

Jim–I thank you.  This poem brings a smile to my face, 25 years later.

Have Those Lips Been Kissed

Have Those Lips Been Kissed

Have Those Lips Yet Been Kissed?

Cristy, of extreme beauty and grace,

even more than the goddess of beauty in face,

And the body fair, as a swan in flight.

The subject of many a dream at night.

Upon thinking, one most wonder.

When dreaming, one must ponder.

Have those lips yet been kissed?

Have young men in their velvet prime missed?

One could fight for thee with sword or fist.

For have those lips yet been kissed?

Cristy, of wonderful beauty and charm,

Could any one dare to do thee harm?

The vilest evil, the coldest heart,

Not one could damage, not even start.

When thinking, one most wonder.

Upon dreaming, one must ponder.

Young men would kill for just one kiss.

And when you’re gone the world will miss.

And one would fight with sword or fist.

And kill one another for just one kiss.

–Jim Maloney