Sunday, July 26, 2009

Looking Backward and Forward

While lying awake after a disturbing dream at 4:30 this morning, I realized that I was awake for the day. Even though I am eight months pregnant, went to bed after midnight, and I could use the rest, my body just wasn't going back to sleep. Great! I thought. I will go blog about my high school reunion. I have been meaning to do this all week.

If you are planning on going to your high school reunion then you are in for some fun, if it is anything like mine was. A week ago I went to my 20 year reunion for the American Fork High class of 1989. It was in two parts. The first part was an icebreaker family picnic at a park in Alpine, Utah. The second part was a fancy, adults-only dinner at a hotel in SLC. That part I couldn't go to. The icebreaker picnic was fabulous though. My husband, who has been to many high school reunions, since he is ancient (50) thinks this reunion was the best, because there was so much mixing and mingling.

It is so hard to believe that it's been 20 years. I grew up in Highland, Utah, and back then all of American Fork, Alpine, and Highland went to the same junior high and high school. Our class had over 400 people. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces and most of the time, I could even remember the name that goes with the face.

Most of the girls have resorted to hair coloring, I noticed. When you see the pictures on Facebook, it is like a peroxide parade. I don't think any of the guys have. A few guys were bald and some of the guys had gray hair. I have to say that one of the guys with gray hair actually looks better. He has some depth and maturity to his looks that flatter him. In three hours' time I had my picnic dinner with my husband and two youngest children, (we left the four oldest at the family reunion we had been having all week in Park City because I knew they would be bored- I get a little bored at my husband's high school reunions and I'm an adult) and then circulated around to talk with at least a dozen people.

It was so liberating to remind myself, "You are not shy anymore. You can talk to whoever you want." Amazingly, labels don't seem to matter much twenty years later. I could talk to the girl jocks, and the cheerleaders and football players, the in-crowd. I was painfully shy in high school and talked more that night to these dozen people than I did through all three years of high school. I was afraid that I would be the only pregnant one there but one of my classmates is also pregnant with her seventh like I am, another with her eighth, and two of my classmates who got married to each other are expecting number 10! Wow! Ten kids in 20 years is not something I want to attempt in this life.

One of my classmates came all the way from Switzerland to attend. I was saddened to hear that one of them had his temple marriage end in divorce when his wife chose an alternative lifestyle. But hooray for him for making it work as a very committed stay-at-home dad. It turns out that one of my classmates plays guitar occasionally with my brother-in-law, Michael Dowdle. Another classmate is a colleague with my brother at BYU as a professor. I am very good friends with another classmate's cousin. It turns out that a handful of my classmates live in Davis County, Utah, like I do, one is even in the same ward here in Layton as a good homeschooling friend of mine, and knows here well. One of my classmates, a scrawny thing who seemed to look prepubescent all three years, now has the girth of Tim Allen in The Santa Clause movie. It was fun to see which classmates had married each other, that is just something that I can't relate to.

If you go to a high school reunion, it helps to bring along an extroverted, garrulous spouse. My dear husband was constantly urging me to go mix and mingle, assuring me that he was watching our two little kids on the playground. Whenever anybody would walk by us while we were eating he would say, "Who's that?" or "Do you know her?" I excused myself to go the restroom (quite a jaunt) and when I came back he was yakking it up with one of my classmates, a person he has never met before, as if he was the one who went to school with him! It turns out this classmate knows my dad, a BYU professor, through his profession as a textbook salesman. I never said anything to this classmate in all my years of knowing him since fourth grade, but he treated me like an old buddy and we had a good time visiting.

I told this story to my sister and she said, "Well Celestia, it looks like you still don't need to do any talking, just have Dan do it for you!" She was referring to a story from my high school days. One of my classmates thought that I couldn't speak because he had never heard me say anything. He told this to another classmate, who knew I could talk because we was in my ward and went to Sunday School with me. The second classmate set out to prove that I could talk. So, across the room, one day in our honors math class, he asked me how many I got wrong on the recent test. Instead of responding verbally, I answered by holding up two fingers. So to this day that other classmate probably still thinks I am mute.

It was soooo fun to visit with all these people. I was not social at all in high school, and I regret that, looking backwards. I think I missed out on what could have been deeper friendships with some quality people. My class had so many good, hard-working, talented kids. Yet I am grateful that I eschewed all the silly social shenanigans kids go through to impress each other and focused on studying hard. I feel I got a great education which opened the door for me to attend and graduate from BYU. I am also grateful that I had nothing to be ashamed of as I faced people at the reunion.

It still seems strange to me that we put over 1200, hormone-raging kids, ages 15-18, in one building, give them textbooks and a lot of distracting extracurricular activities, and expect them to get a high quality, classical education to prepare them for the rest of their lives. Most of them are distracted by their hormones and the social activities. i have never liked the social circus aspect of high school and if I were in charge of secondary education in Utah I would somehow revamp it. Those kids who wanted to play at athletics and social games could have opportunities to play all they wanted, with some service projects involving hard physical work thrown in, and those who wanted to study hard would be in a separate school, which was gender segregated. Looking forward, I am grateful that my kids don't have to endure all the negative aspects of the conveyor belt social circus we call high school.

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