A Half-Century After High School

My high school class is holding our official 50th Reunion tonight. The Memorial High School Class of ’72 will celebrate a half-century since we parted ways after graduation.

I will not be going. I had been planning on it but our travel plans fell through last week.

Our graduation program

I have attended most of our prior reunions. At the 10th, someone stopped me to request a song from the band. They looked genuinely startled when I said wasn’t with the band, I was a fellow graduate. I skipped the 20th due to the price tag as well as realizing my wife, Sara, had less than zero interest in attending anyone’s high school reunion, much less with a lot of people she never knew.

I always attended these reunions with a fair of trepidation as well as anticipation. In 1987, I nearly turned back from our 15th reunion as I approached the festivities, overwhelmed by a wave of anxiety. Had I not immediately run directly into 2 other friends likewise unsure about entering and happy to see me, I might have left. We went ahead on in and enjoyed the evening.

I am not a particularly social fellow and I was not heavily involved in our class activities during high school. I skipped all the pep rallies and football games. I hardly dated and never went to the dances. Certainly, I had friends and I am not trying to complain. But at our 30th reunion, I actually spent most of the evening talking with my friend, Tracy Joyce’s wife, Dale. Having met her when they started dating a year after high school, I’d known her nearly as long as all my classmates, and I just felt more comfortable catching up with her and Tracy.

It was a big school with our graduating class numbering over 600. At one of the early reunions, I realized I suffered from I called “homeroom syndrome.” That is, I simply did not know most of the people I went to school with who were at these reunions. The exceptions were the people from my alphabetically designated homeroom cohort that remained together all 4 years. So, I tend to know classmates whose last names end in “B” of maybe even “C”, but those other folks with last names starting with, say, “H”, “N” or “S” were strangers to me unless our paths had crossed in a class.

Many people recall their high school years as the “halcyon days” of their youth. I have even heard some people saying those were the best years of their lives. Not so much for me. Not only did I skip pretty much all the football games, dances, and pep rallies, but I tried to skip my senior year entirely. My brother assured me I could get into UT early and I already knew I wanted to move to Austin. Our folks did a cute sidestep by not telling me “No” directly, but saying they had budgeted for me to start college the next year. If I wanted to start early, I would have to pay my own way.

I went ahead and finished high school instead.

The biggest thing about attending these reunions at this point, I suppose, is simply that most of the people I would really most like to see will not be there. Several are dead, including some of my closest friends, like Mike Eddy, Duane Prestwood, and Mike McNaughton — all of whom shared a college house with me.

Many others simply never attend these things. Some do stay in touch, either in real life or through social media. Still, some seem to have vanished entirely, leaving no apparent trace. Again, several of my closest high school friends are among these “missing,” who are most likely simply uninterested in waxing nostalgic over a brief chunk of shared time 5 decades ago. The thing is, I’d still like to see several of those folks, but I know that will never happen at a high school reunion.

I am sure all my old classmates attending tonight will have a great time. I do regret not being able to make this one, but I’m also aware that my deep-rooted, but usually hidden, social anxiety never kicks in harder than just before these reunions. So, it was never going to be a non-stop fun-filled night of nostalgic camaraderie for me. I simply had hoped for an evening of reconnecting with a handful of former classmates. No doubt, I would have enjoyed myself this evening.

So, enjoy the festivities, my friends!


About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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