Column: Tales of my 30th high school reunion
Who says a time machine hasn’t been invented?
I’ve seen it – traveled through its mysterious, transforming chamber, tumbling out instantly to a balmy summer evening 30 years in the past.
There, people I’d known my whole life were walking around like nothing happened, greeting me as though I’d never left.
There, the surroundings were the same as 30 years ago, albeit taller trees, better outfits, less hair and newer cars.
There, I was an 18-year-old girl with boys buzzing around like bees, and the promise of a bright future and exciting adventures beckoning us all.
Where’s this miracle, this time machine, you ask? My 30th high school reunion.
n First senior moment. The time travel began with what is undoubtedly my first extremely major “senior moment.” I was sitting at my desk early Thursday evening, finishing up a story so I could take Friday off (I work part-time so I can be available for my kids and husband). The phone rang.
“Mom, when did you think your high school reunion was?” asked son Blake.
“Next weekend,” I said. “Why?”
“Gramma just called and she said she ran into one of your classmates today and he said the reunion is this weekend, not next weekend,” he said.
“WHAT?” I asked, truly baffled. “Oh, Blake, that can’t be. I specifically remember it being the last weekend in July. Gramma must be having a senior moment.”
To make a long story short, Gramma was right, and it was my senior moment, not hers. So, later that Thursday night I had to decide what to do, since the reunion (my first!) started in less than 24 hours.
Through some miracle, sleep deprivation hallucinations, sheer nerves and adrenaline, I managed to pack every outfit I owned (hey, 30 years is a long time … gotta make a good impression) into our Ford van and drive for 13 hours to Washington state on Friday.
I stopped a few miles out of town to pick an outfit and freshen up. At that point I was so wasted, I skipped the costume change, squeezed in some eye drops, pinched my cheeks and brushed my hair.
“Oh, what the heck,” I said to my distorted reflection in the rear view mirror. “Let’s do this.”
One of the good things about being middle-aged, I thought to myself as I rolled on into town and the parking lot of the restaurant where Day One of the reunion was taking place, is that you care less about appearances and what people think.
Taking a deep breath, I entered the Oriental Restaurant (now called Shermer’s, but I refused to acknowledge that name change).
I scanned the room for familiar faces. Everyone in there looked old and bald – at least 100, I figured – with their heads bowed down over their plates like they were praying for chewing assistance or something.
“Oh, it’s worse than I’d imagined … they’ve all aged so badly,” I thought, horrified. “But, hey, why isn’t anyone rising up to greet me? It’s been 30 years, after all! I guess I just look too darn young.”
Then, in a mini-senior moment, I realized I had to be in the wrong place, exited and went around back to the bar, which happened to also be full of people I didn’t recognize and who apparently didn’t recognize me.
“I’m ready for a brain transplant,” I thought to myself, frustrated. “To heck with these senior moments – maybe the reunion is next weekend after all.”
But then I heard voices.
“Is that Linda Lamb?” yelled a (only slightly inebriated) trio of giddy, slightly graying men getting a refill at the bar. “Is that you? Oh, my God, you broke our hearts in junior high!”
Oh, really? Lil’ ol’ me? And that’s when the time machine engine creaked and cranked to a start.
“Kenny, Tom, John!” I squealed like a teen-ager. Oh, I could remember their names and they looked great! It was all I could do to not bounce over to them like a cheerleader. “Where IS everyone?”
“Right this way, M’lady, to the banquet room,” they bowed. “Where have you been for the last 30 years …”
n Linda Hiller is a staff writer for The Record-Courier and heartily recommends attending high school reunions, if only for the opportunity of simulated time travel. She’s back to being 48 today.