I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. My last two years of high school, I went to a school in Little Rock. I went from a public school to private religious school. My public school was one of the largest in the state at that time. I graduated with 45 people from the private school. It was a culture shock to be sure.
There was a lot going on in my life at that time. I was a teenage girl…which is to say I was dramatic, hormonal, angry and terribly unhappy. A religious school with a lot of rules was not at ALL what I wanted. I made that point extraordinarily clear to anyone who would stand still long enough to hear it.
I now know the cure for “angry teen girl syndrome” is about two decades. I have a lot more perspective and grace than I did back then.
This weekend was our 20 year reunion. Even though our class was small, there are people I haven’t seen since graduation day. Others I haven’t seen since our ten-year reunion. Because, well… life. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone. But I was also totally freaked out.
I mean, I didn’t remember to get a pedicure until Thursday, and there wasn’t time to deal with it. My ankles had an unpleasant encounter with my self-tanner, so my legs were weird and streaky. I didn’t magically lose 30 pounds, as I had planned. Then I realized I had to wear cloths, and I hated every stitch of fabric I’ve ever owned. There was a bit of a come apart.
So I showed up feeling self-conscious…which turned out to be ok, but almost everyone else did too. Then we started to laugh. And things relaxed. And it was really good.
And as looked around the room, I kept thinking, we did ok. We really did ok. Some of us are exactly where everyone knew they would be. Some of us are not at all what anyone thought. Some of us have been through some really tough stuff. There’s been death, divorce and depression. But there’s also been joy, family and success. There are cracks in all our carefully crafted outsides.
So we showed up in all of our messy glory, with streaky self-tanned legs, hearts that have been broken and mended many times over, and just enough sarcasm to still make fun of each other and ourselves. We missed those who couldn’t be there terribly. It’s nearly impossible to get everyone together at one time because, well…life.
It’s not like we were in a foxhole together or something, but we have a common history… a shared Stockholm Syndrome, if you will. We all get the same jokes. We all hate most of the same people. We were there in that place in time together. And if you weren’t, there are some things you’ll never get.
You just had to be there.