First impressions – 30 years later
By Trish Finlay, Contributing Writer
There’s something that comes with age that allows us to let our guard down while keeping our control top pantyhose up.
As I was getting ready for our 30th class reunion, I checked the bathroom mirror for any unwanted facial hair and made sure the multi-functional age-defying-luminessing lotions and potions had enough time to seep into my 49-year-old face. Once I had my makeup on and my brand-new dress for the occasion along with lower heels than I once wore, I was ready.
Before the class reunion, my childhood best friend, Sharon, was meeting me at my new house – and by new I mean 1952 new that I purchased – and by purchased I mean mortgaged, but nonetheless it was mine or at least will be mine in a mere 30 years. We had many years to catch up on in an hour’s time.
She looked beautiful. No different than she looked when she and I slept in her trailer that was permanently parked in her yard during our school days talking about which boy we wanted to kiss. She arrived in jeans and a lovely top and sparkly jewelry. I was overdressed. I wanted to rip off my dress and pearls.
Woody Allen took over my head, “I look like I’m trying too hard – what if I slip on these heels – should I take the fake pearl choker off – who do I think I am trying to pull off effortless when I haven’t eaten anything all day except Cheerios in order to look thinner. How the hell do I wear this wrap?”
The Woody Allen exorcism ended and I realized I WANTED to dress up. Sharon assured me that everyone will dress the way they feel comfortable. I was fully comfortable being held in by my pantyhose.
We took separate cars and the anticipation was exciting and nerve wracking. We drove up the long driveway to the Country Club. The room was in plain view and my stomach was in knots but I had any and every stomach issue covered in my purse from Beano to Pepto. Bring it on.
I knew in my rational mind there wouldn’t be any list on the bathroom wall I had to worry about where my name had stars next to it. It wasn’t like I didn’t have friends. I had lots of friends, but the upper classmen must have liked writing my name because back then they wrote it a lot. Some of you considered yourselves wallflowers, but those of us not considered wallflowers had our own cross to bear too.
Walking through the door, my fear subsided. There they were, kids in grown-up faces. Each face I saw was another page right out my life. Megan whom I played with throughout elementary school brought me back to ringing in the new year with Bubble-Up soda in her bedroom. Familiar faces all grown up – all beautiful. All of our lives completely different from one another, but with that common bond still strong as ever.
You don’t always recognize everyone, but with a glance of a nametag and a look in the eyes, you remember.
Dean chipped his front tooth on the day of the reunion. Had this happened to a woman or at least this woman, I’d have stayed in watching a Lifetime movie in my bathrobe. Not Dean, he flashed his jack-o-lantern smile all night adding to the fun. Being October, it was fitting.
Some faces hardened a little from the wear and tear of life while others softened with age.
The room was alive. Alive with memories. There were old flames and old crushes that still hold a place in the heart. Crushes professed for the first time because there is safety in years. There were new romances and still more in the works. “Wow, Chris and Debbie got married!” So whatever happened to …”
What struck me most was that by the end of the night, I didn’t know who was a lawyer or a doctor or a janitor or grocery clerk, because it didn’t matter. I didn’t know who had what address. We all try harder to look a little better because we want to be recognized as our old selves or even better than our old selves.
Seeing the gang from my “old hood,” I could almost hear my mother calling me in for dinner. Saying our nightly good-byes under streetlights and planning our next neighborhood excursion. No cell phones and text messages, just knocks on front doors or a tap on a window.
Despite some of the hardships we as a whole or individually experienced over the course of 30 years – loss of family members, divorces, illnesses – on this night we set aside the sadness, talked of the lighter side and danced the electric slide.
The reunion continued at Sully’s, where Scott played his music and “See you on Facebook” was the modern-day tap on the window. As the only one NOT on Facebook I may not stay in the loop but if anyone wants to hang out, meet me under the streetlight on Summit Ave. and we’ll go from there.
The class clown still played his role. Most talkative played hers. The difference was we were all equal now. No jocks, no stoners, no “in crowd,” no nerds – just us – the Class of ’81 and didn’t we clean up well!
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