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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
October 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

This 'n That
by Anne Vargas
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High School Class Reunion

Anne Vargas
Anne Vargas
Anne Vargas

A few months ago, I wrote an article about my pending 60th high school class reunion, sharing with readers my reservations about my intent to attend.

The article portrayed the reality of the high school chapter of my life. I was assuredly never a part of the cliques; the term “misfit” (or perhaps dweeb) was far more appropriate and even though a whole new wonderful world awaited after graduation, and even though I have lived a lovely life for the past 60 years, the demons had taken up residence in my head, successfully assuring me I would still not fit in. And the fact that I was struggling with this made me feel ridiculously immature. I concluded that other article with a pledge to report back after the reunion was over, which is what I am doing here.

I was surprised to learn from so many people that my feelings of teenage angst and inadequacy were not unique; other people shared them. In fact, some had determined to never attend a reunion! That was both reassuring (misery loves company, even 60 years hence) and distressing; was I making a mistake to go? But plans were in place and reservations had been made so off we went to Bend, Oregon where I was born and raised but hadn’t visited in a very long time. I fought off periodic feelings of anxiety by reminding myself that even if the reunion was a disappointment, it would be good to reacquaint myself with the town.

Suddenly appearance did count!

I also regularly reminded myself that my appearance was not at all important and I concentrated on the words I had always tried to impart to our children: “How you look is not significant, it’s how you feel that matters!” I was doing well with that concept until two days before the event when I woke up with a huge red pimple right in the middle of my nose!

We arrived in Bend after a few days on the Oregon Coast where I basked in the magnificent ocean views and tried to purge that pimple, feeling very shallow that it mattered.

The reunion had been well planned; a happy hour get-together on Friday night, a picnic on Saturday, a dinner on Saturday night. And on Sunday morning, the few classmates who had also attended the small Catholic grade school for eight years were to meet for breakfast in that former school building, now a popular restaurant.

back to school

It all sounded great. So why did I announce to my husband on Friday afternoon that I thought we should just skip that first part, have a quiet dinner somewhere and join the reunion festivities the following day. He told me to get in the car.

It was shocking how easily I slid from the (presumed) maturity of the present me to the self-doubt of an awkward teenager. Approaching the door, I was convinced that on the other side I would find clusters of people I wouldn’t recognize happily huddled exclusively together, reminiscing about the good old days.

Then the door did open and I walked into a room full of welcoming, smiling faces. I was hugged and warmly greeted by people who seemed to be sincerely excited to see me. And I realized I was sincerely excited to see them.

There were a couple of faces in the crowd I would have recognized if I’d run into them in China, but the majority required the name tags which were appreciatively large and included our yearbook photo, although there was still a lot of face to chest peering and memory jogging.

One classmate, whom I had known well back in the day, had changed so significantly I would never have known who she was; in fact, I wondered momentarily whether she had picked up the wrong name tag. But hands down, the most attractive and interesting woman present was our 87year old Journalism teacher who had been our class advisor. She is wonderfully witty and wise, sharp as a tack, exquisitely dressed and a delight to be with.

At the dinner on Saturday night, the microphone was passed around the room and virtually everyone (even me) stood up to say something about what it meant to be there which was wonderful… and it was particularly poignant to have the photos of our 54 deceased classmates posted on a board.

So now that I’ve “been there, done that,” what are my thoughts? How ridiculous I was to do all that agonizing. It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad I went. (And thanks to my daughter’s advice, I banished that pimple with toothpaste.) I never thought I would say this but…