I just went to my high school reunion and I must say I’m surprised.
We all turned into grown-ups! Smart, attractive, accomplished adults. Who woulda thunk it? Not most of us, I’m willing to bet.
Even so, I feel a little bit like I’m wandering around inside the Lost & Found.
What have I lost? Some eyesight, for one. Enough time has passed that I can’t recognize people without their name tags. Even more humbling — I need to put on my glasses just to READ the name tags. Which I also need, because only a few of us look like we did in high school — for better or for worse.
Some of us have lost hair; I’ve lost hair color, for sure. And height — I know this because I can no longer retrieve casserole dishes that somebody stupidly put away on the top shelf back home in my kitchen…and then I realize that that person was myself a few years ago. As we line up for photos, I hear one of the guys in our class grousing that he’s lost 2 inches of height. “So have I,” I tell him —“but you can afford it.” He’s still the tallest guy in the room.
What else is gone? My youthful figure…and the energy to go with it. I no longer have enough strength to open a pickle jar without help.
And, most frustratingly, I’m losing my memory, bit by bit. I know there are funny stories to remember about each of these classmates — but they’ve all escaped me.
Even when I’m telling my own stories, more and more often I have to stop in mid-sentence, groping for a word that’s “just on the tip of my tongue.” Alas, that’s where it stays. It never pops into my mind.
Last night, my telephoned request to the hotel front desk received stunned silence. I thought it was pretty simple: I needed a shower cap so I could take a shower without messing up my hair.
“Do you mean your room doesn’t have one?” she finally asked me.
“Of course not! If I had one already, why would I be asking for one?”
“We will send housekeeping and an engineer right away.”
“An engineer? Why all the fuss?” I asked, but into an empty phone line. She’d already hung up.
Two people soon arrived at my hotel room door and asked to see the bathroom. This seemed like overkill to me, but sure. “Knock yourselves out,” I said.
They peeked into the bathroom, then turned back to me and said “Your bathroom is fine.”
“I knew that already,” I said. “I just need the cap, so I can use the shower. Did you bring one?”
“Shower CAP?” repeated the engineer. “You asked us for a shower CURTAIN. You said it twice. Which we thought was very strange, since the shower is a glass-door enclosure.”
“Oh,” I said. I’ve been making that particular mistake more and more recently — to the point that my husband doesn’t even correct me, anymore.
I do the same with “Xerox” and “vacuum;” I used to get funny looks at Staples when I asked them to vacuum my documents… but this was my worst public crack-up so far.
Nowadays, my memory is barely good enough to remember the odd things, the awkward moments we all had in high school. But as I read the life-stories people sent in — this one joined the navy before a career as a medical technician; that one traveled around the world with the State Department; one became a fabulous seamstress and another became a maternity-ward nurse — I am overcome with the realization that those little awkwardnesses belong in the forgotten past.
Suddenly, I no longer care about what I have “Lost.” Instead, I’m fascinated by what I have Found:
We have all really blossomed, in our years after high school. Or, as our reunion organizer put it, “We have all become better versions of ourselves.”
I am reminded of those paper pellets you drop into a glass of water, and watch as they blossom into a dragon or a flower or a battleship. Back in high school, we were just the pellets. Now, we are fully grown-up people — professionals, parents, even grandparents, with lots of life experience to share.
So, never mind about whatever it is (“shower cap”) that I can’t remember. All that matters is going forward starting today, with a clean slate for myself, and every one of my classmates.
As long as they’ll do the same for me.