Revisiting our past, reunion style

Here in Northwest DC, late spring is a season of budding flowers, gentle breezes, and class reunions. Ah, yes, the class reunion. We all know it; we’ve all been to at least one, and often, it can be like enduring puberty yet again. For some, a delightful romp, for others, not so much. Without fail, a snarky classmate attends but then refuses to speak to anyone. And, of course, there is always the Classmate Who Surprises.


Come on, you know who I’m talking about. The classmate nobody would’ve guessed to be any way other than A turns out to be Z. He or she reveals their true colors that are as much a revelation as a mystery: how could we have missed the signs? Our eyes search the room, desperate to find acknowledgement from someone else who is as surprised as we by the glory on display.


One prime example comes immediately to mind: a demure, tiny brunette who few in my class paid attention to returns 25 years later as a platinum blond body builder. For our updated class yearbook, she submitted a studio portrait of herself flexing in an orange bikini, holding her naked infant. Wow. I admire her confidence.


And then there’s the classmate who received a doctorate in Renaissance medical techniques and now “consults” with the US Navy. Undoubtedly, she must spend much of her time in undisclosed locations on an atoll in the South Pacific where the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply.


Or there’s the time when we knock on the door of the home where the Big Party is being held, only to introduce ourselves to our classmate hostess who’s had so much plastic surgery to render her unrecognizable. Awkward.


Alumnae magazine updates may be less personal, but when I read entries of our peers who write to inform the rest of us about the benefits of adhering to some humble yet righteous diet while recording soon-to-be-lost native lullabies sung in war zones or those who have created an entire cottage industry as a certified psychic or life coach, well, reports like these make me want to crawl under my twin sized bed and stay there.


Why don’t these updates say something more like, “I finally married a straight guy who has held onto the same job for the past five years and knows how to change a tire.” Or perhaps, “Having recently been fired, I am relieved to be gone and am now happily working as a telemarketer.” Where are these entries?


Personally, I would be relieved to read something honest like that than the sort of dreck that regularly gets published. And I know I’m not alone. When I once made a little noise about the type of entries that get printed, it was patiently explained to me that schools never publish such updates because it might “hurt the brand.”


It takes a lot of courage to return to our old stomping grounds and subject ourselves to the scrutiny of peers, but overall, most of the time, it’s life affirming. Either you’re glad you didn’t wind up like X or you’re elated to discover that Y has come into her own. The thing that’s so nice about returning to a place where we share the same vocabulary is that, even though we may no longer speak the same language, that touchstone reminds us how far we’ve come.


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2 Responses to “Revisiting our past, reunion style”

  1. Patrick Ross Says:

    “When I once made a little noise about the type of entries that get printed, it was patiently explained to me that schools never publish such updates because it might “hurt the brand.””

    Wow! I might actually read alumni notes if they actually included interesting posts like that.

    I love your alumni profiles, by the way! Very amusing, and very real.

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