The ten-year high school reunion is something that has gained a reputation as being both tedious and terrific, equal parts stressful and successful, both a blast and a bomb.
It is something teenagers think about in the throes of being pushed up against lockers and being the chubby girl in the locker room. It is something that stands, as any beacon should, signaling the light at the end of the tunnel. Ten years out of high school — kids think — we’re going to be somebodies.
Now, granted, Taylor Swift had to go to someone’s high school and it is quite possible she’s just thrilled about the opportunity to return and laugh in the face of all those who wronged her, but the majority of 28 year olds aren’t dating Calvin Harris and making millions of dollars a night on stage. The majority of 28 year olds are just starting to realize student loans are the devil, metabolism really does slow down if you keep eating pizza buns for breakfast every day and the real world isn’t always as generous with so-called success as one is inclined to think.
With that said, if the reunion crowd can put aside the instinct to compete or one-up, the idea is actually quite romantic. No longer pimply-faced and prone to spurts of misdirected angst, conversations can begin to explore the topics that have the ability to bring people together — change, challenge, growth and the pursuit of dreams.
Much like the frequency of change between the ages of ten and thirteen, the ten years after high school have the ability to completely reshape someone, for better or worse. Recognizing these changes in others sometimes enables us to look within at the cornerstones in our own development.
This past weekend, however, I wasn’t interested in examining my own cornerstones or working on my personal development. I was, on the other hand, prepared to watch an old friend get married and — as part of the package — see quite a few people I went to high school with. As this summer marks the ten years since I graduated high school and much to my relief no reunion has been planned, I didn’t fight the inevitable. There was bound to be the obligatory catch-ups, the what-do-you-dos, the I-didn’t-know-you-got-marrieds.
There were — lots of those.
What there was more of, though, was an instant camaraderie — a level of respect for each other that didn’t stem from homeroom shenanigans, but from a silent recognition that we were once all innocents together. We didn’t talk about our high school selves — apart from a few wedding speech moments — but we remembered.
And, as muscle memory is wont to do, we were led down a path none of us expected.
A path, quite literally, that led us through the forest at midnight, in the pouring rain, to a dock. One by one we leapt, into the icy August Ocean, shrieking like we would if we were 16 again — some of us not having seen each other since the day we walked across the stage at graduation. We swam, our limbs glowing under the water like the textbook bioluminescence we all learned of together in science class. We ran and jumped, screamed as the thunder rolled, covered our eyes as the bathing suits came off.
We were, unintentionally, reunited.
There was no cover band, no drink tickets, and no declarations of self-importance like I feared would be the case if it was an official reunion — but instead there was a resurrection of an emotion that comes too few and far between when you leave the hallways of structure and security behind.
There was desire without purpose, fear without faltering, love without worry and not a shred of self-doubt as we peeled off our hotel robes.
And then there was glee.
— Andria Parker is an Instagram-obsessed idealist with at least 600 words to share on every topic, ever.