School reunions are a time of laughter, reflection and anxiety.
While they create an opportunity for rekindling old friendships and to reminisce about childhood memories, they also make you vulnerable and open to judgment. Those new wrinkles, the extra pounds, the grey hair around the temples you try to hide (or are too lazy to hide), they’re all on display to the friends you haven’t seen in years. And so are the choices you’ve made about your life.
Even if you’re happy with where you are, you can't help feeling insecure about some aspect of it – the missteps, the failures, the dreams that you never attained, the goals you never met, they’re all there ready to bubble up to the surface when you see yourself reflected back in the eyes of someone who knew you when everything was possible.
Reunions also remind of you of the passing of time. They are a marker of your life -- Five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. Where were you then and how far have you come? How are you different? How do you compare? At one time you were all at the same place and now you’ve all moved in different directions.
Even if you are fully loved and content, and don’t think about these questions, when you enter a room filled with people you shared a formative time in your life, you still crave their love and acceptance.
So you try and show the best of you, the happiest of you, the prettiest of you.
You open yourself up and share your story, your life and sometimes your heart. And they share their story with you. And you laugh together about how you were and where you’ve come.
Some people surprise you with their warmth, grace and kindness. Others impress you with their accomplishments and life choices. And yet others break your heart with their stories of suffering and tragedy.
And even though you’re much closer to some than others, you feel a certain connection to all of them because of the common experience you shared during a seminal time in your life.
Then it ends just as quickly as it began. And as you say goodbye, you reflect on your life and on the friendships you made and keep. You cherish the moments of laughter and joy that filled your time together and walk away knowing that they will always be part of your life.