I went to my 20 year high school reunion on Oct. 11. I graduated from Clovis High School in Clovis, CA - Class of '88 - Go Cougars! It's a small town (or at least it was small) outside Fresno. Redneck California. It's all orchards, vineyards and cows. We used to joke that Clovis and Fresno were 2 or 3 hours from anywhere you really wanted to be (the beach, mountains, San Francisco, LA, etc).
Anyway, I didn't plan on going. I never cared for high school and while I had lots of friends and even with a graduating class of over 600, everyone pretty much knew everyone else - still didn't care much about going back. But my best friend since we were 13, Nikie, was very persuasive. We used to see each other every 3 years or so (she lives in Georgia) and I was in her wedding and she was in mine, but we hadn't seen each other since my wedding in 2000.
So we convinced another friend of ours (Chelsea) to go and we all met up on Saturday night for the shindig. My husband bet me how many lines I could sneak in from Gross Pointe Blank - one of our favorite movies (it's a hilarious movie about an assassin who decides to go to his high school reunion). I got in about 6. My first opportunity was when we checked in and they handed us our stick-on name tags with our Senior picture on it. I looked at Chelsea and said, "Oh, it's a fresh kind of hell" which is the line Cusack says when they gave him his sticky label with high school pic on it. It was actually pretty helpful though since, out of the roughly 40 people who showed up, only 4 looked exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. And one of them was a cheat as he was one of the 6 black kids in our entire graduating class.
Another reason I didn't want to go was they chose a black and white dressing up theme for the party. Really?? We couldn't just have an equally lame luau theme and at least be comfortable??
I bought my dress a couple of days before for $6 (gotta love the clearance rack at Kohl's) and my shoes, make-up, nylons - pretty much everything I had on me had to be purchased since I don't dress up.
Here's a pic of Nikie, me and Chelsea...
Chelsea, I have to point out, is wearing a dress that she wore to a Winter Formal when we were in high school. Still fits her! (Her dad had kept it all these years.)
And yes, that is my finished Juliet! I'll give more details, better pics, and the story of that project in another post.
So it doesn't take a real keen eye to see that I had changed clothes during the evening. After dinner, when the dancing started, I went up to my room and changed to be comfortable. (BTW, the 3 story hotel didn't have any elevators. Haven't there been elevators since, like, 1810? Fresno.)
There was drinking. Lots of it. I kept telling Chelsea, "I don't know how you're facing this sober!"
Group shot. The guy in the front row holding up his drink is the only teacher that showed up. It was kind of funny, because as I remember, this guy got in trouble for partying with the students 20 years ago! Apparently, he's still at it.
I don't know if I'm doing that old lady shrink thing already or what but all the guys seemed about 6" taller then they were when we graduated. It was weird.
The whole thing was surreal. I went by myself which was a bummer. I really wanted my husband and kids to be there (there was a reunion family picnic on Sunday). If for no other reason then to be able to use them as a distraction. As in, "Look, shiny children! Pay no attention to the fat girl behind the curtain, look at the shiny children and gorgeous husband!" The thought of facing my crazy family and former classmates by myself was giving me nightmares for awhile before I went.
But in reality, I had the best time!! (I'm sure the alcohol helped). Really, though. I had so much fun and everyone was really cool and laughing and having a great time as well. We were all filling in the gaps for each other with all the "Remember when" and "ohmigod, I'd totally forgotten that!" One of the women who showed up with her husband lives in Colorado now, one town over from me!
Sunday morning, I had breakfast with Nikie and her family before they headed off to Disneyland. Nikie had gone to the ten year reunion and she said it was so different because people still had attitudes and cliques and something to prove but at the 20 year, everyone was over it and was just there to have a great time.
Also, Nikie's daughters were breaking my heart. At 6 and 3 they are so beautiful and adorable, it just made me miss my babies so much!
On Sunday, I went to the picnic and hung out with Stacy (a friend from elementary school) and Chelsea. It was really laid back and other then one girl's insistence that we play softball, it was really mellow. No one wanted to play ball and I think everyone was just chillin' and recovering from the previous evening's revelry.
After the picnic, I stopped to see an old friend who had refused to go to any of the reunion festivities. In fact, her exact words were, "Awww, you're cute! Not going." I sat in her kitchen with her and her wife and we talked and laughed our asses off for almost 3 hours! It was so great to see her. I was teasing her that she is one of those people who's dog looks just like their owner. She's got this big, burly Akita. Looks really intimidating but is actually a teddy bear. Veronica is the same way. She looks like a short, burly, intimidating Samoan man but is actually about one of the sweetest, kindest people I know. I wish I brought my camera to take a pic with her but I forgot it at my mom's house.
On Monday, I went to my old high school to see some teachers. My friend Tiffany, works as the registrar at the school now and she told me not to check in first - she said if I checked in, they probably wouldn't let me go see anyone. She told me to call her in the morning and she'd tell me when/where to go to see the 2 teachers I wanted to see. I went to Mr. Menendian's class to say hi but he was out for the day. Then I went to see my dance teacher, Mick. She was such a huge influence in my life. She was a strong, stable woman and that was something I never had much of growing up. She was always so patient and kind and made us feel like we were worth a million bucks.
I went to the locker room to see her and the moment I laid eyes on her, I started tearing up. I swear, I had such a hard time pulling it together to tell her how much she meant to me. I kept starting to tear up and blubber like an idiot! I don't know where it was coming from but I got so emotional. What the hell! She was really cool about it and we got to talk for about 15 minutes before she had to go start her class. She's still the best! Here's a pic of us under the Dance Yourself Silly sign she still has over the door after all these years.
I walked across campus to the amphitheater. Sat on the edge of the stage like we always did at lunch way back when. Swinging my legs and wondering why such a land-locked town has seagulls flying everywhere around the high school (just like 20 years ago). Some woman who works at the schools walks up to me and standing not a foot from me and looking dead into my face snaps, "What are you doing?? Don't you have class to go to?" I looked at her and smiled, "um, 20 years ago." After she figured out I'm an adult, she was all smiles and sweet, "Oh, just visiting then? Well, have fun!" Some things never change.
I walked to the admin building to see Tiffany and take my pic under the mangy, stuffed cougar that's still on the wall there. Do you see his missing toe (it's the little white spot on his hind foot)? I wonder who snapped off that souvenir. People always get all bent about that cougar being there but the thing's been dead for over 40 years. It wouldn't be alive now even if it hadn't been killed and stuffed by some hunter so long ago. And we all know that back then, these things were more acceptable. Plus, as I've mentioned, Clovis isn't exactly forward thinking. So it's still there.
Clovis now has a population of over 94,000 people. That blows me away. It was like 30,000 when I left in 1991. When I was in 8th grade, there was this huge open field in one corner of the main crossroads in Clovis. Someone put up a sign that said, "Future Home of the Sierra Vista Mall. When I left 8 years later, that sign and empty field were still the same. The only thing they'd built was the movie theater in the field behind it. Now that mall is actually there. Shocker!
It's so changed and yet still so the same. The highway 101 is still a dead end. Usually when you see a sign that says, "Highway ends, 100 feet", it means that the highway turns into some random road. Not so in Fresno. In Fresno, it means, "No, Bitch, the highway ENDS. You best find the next exit." Otherwise, you'll be barrelling through wooden barricades and hitting a mountain of dirt. Ahhh, Fresno. How I've missed thee. (not really)
On Monday, I also went to see my high school sweetheart, Drew. We started dating when I was around 16 and were together for nearly 3 years. The first two years were great, that last one was mutual torture and drama. When I moved out of the house when I was 17, we lived together for about a year. We've always been friends and keep in touch by phone every year or so.
His family owns a big auto machine shop in Clovis and they all run it together. His dad (whose retired but still shows up everyday, because, really, what else is he gonna do?) is still there, Drew runs it now, and his oldest sister still runs the admin side of it. His little brother (who was about 6 years old when I left town) is all grown up now and is working there as well. (They have 2 other sisters, one is a teacher in Las Vegas and his littlest sibling, Sally Marie, is getting her Master's at Fresno State - she was about 3 years old when I left. I'm old.) His mom got paralyzed (waist down) in a car accident about 10 years ago (99 car pile-up in the fog on one of California's highways). She sometimes comes to the shop still, too but wasn't there when I visited. It was great to see them! I was a little nervous about seeing him in my current shape (or lack thereof) but I needn't have been. He got fat, too! We were laughing about our weight and the old times and the current times. We crack each other up, still!
His girlfriend showed up and they are having some drama. I was at the other end of the counter and I guess she told him, "Why don't you go start talking to her, then!" and left. He told her I was with the other guy standing at the counter (who is another old friend of ours, but apparently one she didn't know very well). I told him he should've said, "That? Man, she was 20 years ago!" Like I said, some things never change. Drew's not happy unless he's with a woman whose making him miserable. That includes me - 20 years ago, I was a total basket case! Thank Dog for therapy!
I also got to meet some of my "imaginary friends" (as my husband calls the bloggers). I had dinner with Quail Hill Knits (but forgot my camera again). She has the best stories! Like the fact that, recently, the police recovered a motorcycle that was stolen from her husband... 20 years ago!! Awesome.
And I got to have breakfast with and a ride to the airport from ChickenKnits. She's so funny and cool! I wished we live closer together!
I'd get into the drama that is my family but even I'm bored with it at this point and this post is overly long enough as it stands.
More fun then I'd ever imagined, Ruth!