Dear Old.

This weekend was the Stanton Class of 1993 20-Year Reunion. I had longstanding plans to be out-of-state this weekend, so I didn’t buy a ticket to the reunion, so when my original plans fell apart a few days after the published deadline for buying reunion tickets, I felt pretty damned silly. Thankfully, they let us know that it was kosher to buy tickets at the door.

Like the ten-year, it was a three-day event, though I missed the first night’s festivities. Maybe sixty or seventy people (out of a graduating class of 225) showed up the second night for dinner and drinks at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which few of us had ever visited before. Caught up with some friends I’ve kept in touch with through the years, caught up with some friends I’ve only contacted via FaceBook, chatted with some folks who I’d known of in high school but not really known. Some folks aged as much as I have, some folks apparently didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to age.

There were a few people I hesitated to talk to because, frankly, I wasn’t sure who they were. There was a particular pair of women who had come to look an awful lot alike (they weren’t twins, though I did graduate with at least five sets of twins), and I had been friends with one of them in high school and never said a word to the other. I resolved the problem by getting another drink, forgetting about the matter, and instead talking to people I knew I knew.

There was a table with the senior photographs of two of our classmates who’ve died in the last ten years. There was a remembrance of them at the end of the senior video. It was touching and frustrating: both were severely depressed, both took their own lives, both are sorely missed.

There was a table with all six yearbooks, seventh grade through senior year. I should’ve gone through and snapped shots of my yearbook photos, but darned if I didn’t. There was a poster with all of our senior photographs on it, but the coloring was a bit off. I was completely clean-shaven the day my senior photograph was taken, but in this particular rendering it looked like I was wearing mutton chops. I guess that’s how shallow my cheeks were. I was so skinny back then I had to take in an elastic captain’s armband to keep it from sliding off.

One of the chefs looked familiar, turned out she’s the fiancée of a former student and I recognized her from various Facebook posts. She kindly texted my former student, who came by and we caught up a bit. I’m glad she did, though that combined with learning that a former student is the niece of a guy I graduated with and learning that classmates were getting ready to send their kids to our school made me feel older. Oh well.

After several enjoyable hours that included a nostalgic and occasionally cringeworthy video montage of our high school experiences, various mini-reunions along the way, and the ten-year reunion, the folks at MOCA flipped the lights off and on to let us know it was time to leave– leave it to graduates of a nerd school to shut down a museum on a Saturday night. We spent ten minutes figuring out where to send the group next, and settled on some dive bar downtown. The regulars looked displeased to see a bunch of late-thirty-somethings intruding on their sacred ground, but… too bad. Get jobs and decent haircuts, punks.

Today’s event was a barbecue at and tour of Dear Old Stanton. The food was good: barbecue pork and chicken, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, banana pudding. The campus is absolutely gorgeous compared to 20 years ago. Broad tarps cover a central courtyard to provide shelter from sun and rain for those students who eat outside. The bricks in the courtyard bear the names of former students and teachers who donate to the school, so I bought a brick for myself and my siblings.

The halls of the main building bear trophy cases, and boards that bear the names of valedictorians and salutatorians, and newspaper articles about current and former students’ achievements, and newspaper articles about the history of the school. My name is not on any of those trophies or anywhere on those walls, but walking those halls, to this day, instills me with a great sense of pride. I am more proud of having graduated there than I am of any other degree or diploma I could possibly hold. I hope their current and future students feel that sort of pride, too.

I need to do a better job of keeping in touch with more of my classmates. Ten and twenty years is too long.