I went to a small, all boys' Catholic high school in northern New Jersey, which was somewhat unique in that it was separated from a small, all girls' Catholic high school by a big, thick wall and the heaviest door you can imagine. Today it's a co-ed school, but back in the day we could only associate with each other before and after school or for 10 minutes after lunch. The boys were never allowed on the girls' side but the girls were allowed to visit us in front of the cafeteria. The girls had (hideous) uniforms and the boys just had a dress code - collared shirt, no sneakers or jeans, no hair longer than your collar.
As you can see in my senior picture, I pushed that rule about the hair to the limit - and you can't even see that I had a tail that was tucked inside my collar. So bad! But it was cool at the time, as apparently were super skinny ties and Sun-In'd hair (or maybe that was just me?). We shopped at the cheesiest store called Chess King and wore Capezio shoes and parachute pants, and listened to Madonna, Prince, and Wham! on cassette tapes. Maybe it is possible that I am that old.
In all honesty, I was pretty sure I was going to pass on the reunion. I was traveling to Las Vegas the weekend before, I had to prep for Halloween the weekend after, I haven't seen a soul from high school in a good 25 years.... At the last minute I emailed 2 of my best friends from high school to see if they were considering going, confidant that there wasn't a chance in the world. Yet within a few days we had all committed and made a pact to meet up.
I haven't seen Mike or Cara in ages, but we've been reconnecting these past few years with email and Facebook, and I could not wait to see them again. Mike was my best friend, and I *might* have had a serious secret crush on him and followed him around like a puppy dog; Cara and I became close because I dated her best friend, Jackie, whom no one has heard from, ever again. We tried to get Cara and Mike together, but that wasn't happening.
It's amazing that after so many years of not being in touch, there was still an incredible ease about our friendship. We met up in advance and talked like no time had passed, even though we've pretty much lived full lives in the interim, with college, grad school, careers and families. I must say, the three of us have aged pretty well! Different clothes, different hair, same personalities. How was I ever that skinny?
We were all so excited to hear that "Stan the Man," another of our closest friends, was rumored to be reappearing too. Stan, Mike and I had all toured Boston College together, but Mike went off to Weslyan while Stan and I headed to BC. We were even supposed to be roommates Sophomore year, but the week before school started Stan dropped out and vanished into thin air, and I was never able to track him down again. You have to remember, back then we kept in touch by writing letters. As in "snail mail." We had to wait weeks to hear from one another. We also had to pay for a long distance phone call. There were no cell phones, text messages, Skype or Face time, no emails, Facebook, or any kind of social media. Jeez, there was no internet! It's amazing we survived what with all the dinosaurs still roaming around.
My friend Darlene (all the way on the right) found this old picture of us with Stan, lined up in the same order (with Cara in the upper picture and Rob and Monica in the lower). Stan looks fantastic, and he is still the most genuinely nice guy. Turns out he lives near where my parents now live, so hopefully we'll meet up again. Darlene had brought some of the old letters we had written to her, and we had so many good laughs over those. Monica brought our yearbook and had everyone at the reunion sign the back cover.
One more person I was so happy to see was my friend Frank, who was one of the people that organized the reunion. He and his partner Vinnie were such fun to hang out with that I'm sure we'll be keeping in touch. It was great catching up with so many other people, especially when I didn't even think I had that many friends in high school. (I was valedictorian and voted most intelligent, which generally = nerd. At least people knew who I was to vote for me, right?) I do wish a few others had made it, like my friend Jim who had sent me the picture below of us with Mike. I had dinner with him a few years ago when he was in DC on business, and he's still a great guy as well. What would life had been like with all of us if it was as easy to keep in touch as it is today???
Here's the class of '85, then and now. If you enlarge the top pic, you might be able to make out me holding up the "Y" in "crazy." Yes, Purple Rain was the a big part of the soundtrack of our youth, and Let's go crazy! was a perfect song for a graduating class.
Mike, Cara, Stan, Rob and I were just about the last people to leave. We went back to our hotel and shared more wine and memories, then even went out to the diner at 3AM. I cannot even process how much fun I had with them! We drank way too much, danced like fools, and stayed up half the night talking about life. It was all the joy of my formative years but without any mean girls, bullies or teenage angst. I think we're all thrilled to be back in touch and may have to plan some regular mini-reunions of our own from now on.