Can’t believe it is already time for my 20-year reunion

Editor June 21, 2015 Comments Off on Can’t believe it is already time for my 20-year reunion
Can’t believe it is already time for my 20-year reunion

My 20-year high school reunion is this weekend.
Wait, WHAT?
I know. I KNOW. I don’t get how this happened because I’m pretty sure the ’90s were just 10 years ago. Weren’t they? Come to think of it, they’ve been 10 years ago for a long time.
So I don’t feel all that far away from high school, really. I’m 37 years old, it’s been 20 years since I walked across the stage at Northshore High School, but I still feel connected to that time in my life. Maybe because, uh, I still live here.
Also, there’s Facebook. Facebook keeps me up to date on classmates I didn’t keep up with in high school. It’s a bizarre thing. People I barely knew back then, but 20 years later I can tell you they ate grilled salmon for dinner last night, and their middle child just moved up a notch in karate.
So Facebook can suck some of the mystery out of high school reunions, but there’s still something special about getting together in person, without photo filters to soften our laugh lines.
Which brings me back to–wait, what? Laugh lines? Here’s the thing–I saw a photo shot recently at another high school’s 20-year reunion, and WHOA. They looked so…old. Not OLD old, not Golden Girls old, just…these people were not in high school at all not even a little bit that was YEARS AGO.
Like, 20 years ago.
Like me.
But! But! I still get carded…at WalMart. Usually. Because there’s a big sign hanging behind the cashier saying something like, “Be prepared to show ID unless you resemble a cast member of ‘The Golden Girls.'” Or maybe it says, “We card everyone under 40.” Whatever. I’m under 40 (barely), and there are times they don’t card me which is SO WRONG I can’t even tell you. I’m glaring at the cashier, and she’s all, “Ma’am, aren’t you about to attend your 20-year high school reunion? Your days of getting carded are OVER.”
I think that’s what she said. Or, I don’t know, she might have said, “Do you want your apple juice in a bag?”
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not grieving my youth. It’s a privilege to get older, and I know this. I’m just–where did the time go? Class of ’95, how did we get here so quickly? The older I get, the more it feels like the years are passing like a train always picking up speed. One second I’m all lalala in the dining cart listening to Lisa Loeb and wearing brown lip liner and denim overalls, and next thing I know, I look out the window and realize WHOA it’s 2015, Lisa Loeb is recording children’s albums, and that dark lip liner trend never did anyone any favors. Also, I have four kids, and this train is getting away from me big time.
I want it to slow down, and maybe that’s why I’m looking forward to my reunion so much. I’m excited to see my friends, but there’s something else, too. There’s the chance to revisit the teenaged Betsy, just for a moment. Not that I want to go back–Lord, don’t make me go back. Those years were awkward, and I was unsure of myself. I laughed too loudly and wore goofy, unflattering clothes. I had a dozen unrequited crushes and was never asked to a homecoming dance. No, I don’t want to be 17 again, with all its angst and insecurity. But I welcome the nostalgia, the trip back to childhood, where my responsibilities were few and other people paid the water bill. Back then it felt like the world was at my feet, and I had infinite time to do…whatever I wanted.
I miss that feeling. I’m glad to have grown up, but now that I’ve done it, I have only to grow older. I know how quickly 20 years can go by–it’s a frightening speed.
So here’s to the naiveté of youth, and to revisiting our high school selves. But only briefly. Let’s get drunk on nostalgia (the real kind, not the kind that comes in a glass), and when it’s all over, we don’t have to stay. Like a grandparent who spoils the grandbaby for the weekend and then happily returns him, so is a high school reunion. We can go back to high school for a night, but we don’t have to stay.
Happy 20 years, Class of 1995.
And also, happy Father’s Day to my dad, who put up with me in high school, and who is also likely relieved I am no longer 17.
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at

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