This Life...

My Fortieth? Seriously?

I just had a wake-up call on a day I’d much rather have stayed asleep. My fortieth high school reunion is coming up next year. Meep! Fortieth!

I have the clearest memory of a time too many years ago when an old (as in older than me, not long-time) friend told me she was going to her fortieth high school reunion. I recall thinking, “Forty years! Sheesh, she’s way older than I thought she was!”

Now, I’ve never been to any of my high school class reunions–the first three, I wasn’t inclined because I was fat, and everyone told me that the people who got fat after high school were the ones everyone made fun of in a terrible way at the breakfast the day after the reunion. Whether it was true or not, I couldn’t bear the idea of possibly being that person. (Yeah, I’ve grown up some in the last twenty years.)

Next came the twentieth, and I think I was away that year and couldn’t make it, but I saw a video later. OMG! As I watched, I said to Husband, “I’ve got the wrong video–all these people are old and gray! I don’t recognize anyone.” Obviously, I hadn’t looked in a mirror recently! Then a classmate that I’d met again at, of all places, a Weight Watchers meeting, came over and we watched the video together. She’d been there and she told me who everyone was. Yup, it was my class–I just hadn’t seen any of them in twenty years! Nor had they seen me…

I didn’t make the next ones, 25, 30, and 35, respectively, either. Twenty-five was the year the friend I mentioned earlier died and I couldn’t stand the thought of going back. Thirty was the weekend Son got married, and I believe we were visiting Son for 35. Somehow, I’d managed to avoid class reunions for 35 years.

In 2009, my classmates had a 55th birthday party for the class and finally, I attended. I’d been communicating with some of them on Facebook and they’d all encouraged me to come. It was a revelation. I connected with lots of people I’d known in high school, but never knew well. Everyone was charming and kind and interested in my life, just as I was interested in theirs. We reminisced and told tales and had a blast.  (That’s a term from the 1970s for a really great time!)

A small group of us have gotten together over the past couple of years just to catch up and I’m pleased to be in touch with a couple of my former classmates on a regular basis. It’s fun to be with them, and I’m looking forward to seeing the old crowd at the reunion,  and even helping with the planning.

So why is forty setting me back on my heels? I think because I can’t help remembering my “old friend” and her reunion so many years ago. Now I’m her…and someone reading this is going to think, “Forty years since high school? Oh my god, I had no idea Nan was that old!”



  • Betty Fokker

    My mom says the hardest part about getting old is that you NEVER feel like a “grown up” or “old”. You feel like a 20 year old and wonder why the hell your roots are grey. Now that I am going to be 40 (I was born in 72) I know exactly what she is talking about!

    • Nan

      Robena–great news!

      Carol–great advice! I shall go and own the room!

      Fokker–your mom is right. Although, sheesh! You were born while I was graduating from high school! Good Lord! You’re a baby!

  • Carol

    Nan, go have fun. This summer I went to my first class reunion – my fortieth. Geri, my cousin and I enjoyed ourselves, immensely. It could have gone either way: great fun or the wallflower at the dance. It was great fun. Yeah, there is way more of me than ever before. I went with “Own the Room” just to give me a boost of confidence.

    I was surprised at the people who remembered me and were so happy to see ME. Imagine that. Lots of hugs and reconnected with a childhood friend from grade one. Yes, some are still the same after all these years, no growth which is pretty sad and others are so open and secure with themselves, gray hair, extra pounds and all.

    Go, have a great time. Do it for you. And own the room, Nan. 😉