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Millbrook High School Class of 1989 August 17, 2009

Posted by markgeil in People.
Tags: ,

It was a 30-hour vacation, all told, Saturday to Sunday. Fourteen of those hours were spent driving. But it took twenty years.

I can’t say that I’ve ever really been to a class reunion. I’ve missed out on college reunions, and although we did attend our 5-year high school reunion, that doesn’t count. Not enough time had passed.  Twenty years, though. Now we’re talking.

Reggie and Jeff are attorneys now. Edgar is a college basketball coach. Billy is now Bill and he works at IBM. George is a firefighter. At least two other pairs of high school sweethearts stayed together and got married, just like Amy and me. Some people got taller and, inexplicably, some people got shorter. And mercifully, Dink no longer has a mullet.

We were the class of 1989, and I think we’re doing pretty well for ourselves. Some have grown up. A lot. Some still have way too much to drink at parties and act like, well, like high schoolers. Most, though, have the same expressions and personalities and quirks that drew us all together way back when.

In high school, routine things in life take on deeply magnified importance. The person occupying the seat beside you in the cafeteria, or the dreaded lack thereof, is everything. The decision to sit in the bleachers at a football game and cheer or to walk around the whole time, ignoring the game, is everything. The lumpy guy who is bigger than you and bumps his shoulder into you in the hall, probably on purpose, is everything. The girl who somehow forgot to invite you to the movies with all the other girls is everything, because they probably talked about you the whole time. The fact that each of those things can independently be everything, all at the same time, explains why high school can be so difficult, and so miserable, and so easy, and so fun. At no other time in our lives do we let ourselves be so defined by others.

Twenty years later, as it should be, we’ve defined ourselves. What we value as important has changed, but we are still made to value other people. I think that’s why I had such a good time at the reunion. There were people there who were so very important to me in 1987, and then I somehow forget they existed in the intervening years. But Saturday night, in 2009, I’d see a face, and I’d glance down at a nametag. And that person would see my face, and glance down at my nametag, and the recognition would occur, and after that happened two or three times I realized I genuinely still care about these people and I loved finding out what’s happened with their lives.

Edgar, the college basketball coach, and one of the ones who grew a lot taller, looked over the crowd while we were talking and became suddenly philosophical. “You know, it’s surreal,” said Edgar. “There are so many people in this room that I will never see again.” That may very well be true. But even if it is, I’ll take that 45-second conversation, shouted over too-loud 80’s music, about what are you doing now and where do you live and do you have any kids, and I’ll file it away to help me complete a picture of a person who might have been everything to me, and then was sadly nothing, and now might be something again, at least for a while.



1. Marcie Barnes - August 17, 2009

Well said Mark 🙂 I also felt a great sense of the connections in life that really have helped me to realize who I am and/or help shape me. And conversely, was reminded of the relationships that were mostly or purely superficial. But that’s High School for ya! It was great to see you.

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