Last month my high school classmates and I celebrated our 25 year reunion. 25 years.
Wow. You would think that on a
small island such as this there would be no need for a social gathering –
surely we all bump into each other on a weekly basis. But surprisingly this is not the case. In fact, I saw some people that night that I
have not clapped eyes on in years.
Frankly we all looked fabulous!
I attended local schools all the
way through “A” Levels before heading off to university in London. Due to the size of the community there was
not an abundance of high schools, and so chances were you’d be sharing a year
with many of the same people for grade after grade until graduation sent you
off to the next chapter of your lives.
Knowing that your friends would be there for you at the start of each
new term was terrific. Knowing that your
tormentors were also coming along for the ride; not so good. I probably had an equal dose of both. Looking at pictures of myself back in high
school, I bore a bit of a resemblance to Molly Ringwald circa Sixteen
Candles. My hair was short and curly and
skin as white as snow. I went through
the usual trials and tribulations, trying to look as hip as possible without
breaking school rules. Believe it or not
I thought that putting baby oil in my hair to tame the frizz was the way
forward. My locks certainly glistened in
the sun, but the ick factor thankfully curtailed that habit before anyone got
My mother bought me some very
sensible shoes that actually didn’t bother me so much at the time. Brown leather with thick rubber soles, they
looked like mini brown hovercrafts on my feet.
Those, coupled with the must-have Ray-Ban Wayfarers of the time gave the
impression of a young lady sorrowfully misguided in her fashion choices. How I escaped high school without permanent
psychological damage is beyond me.
Others who know me may question this optimism; ahem.
Stickers were all the rage for a
while. They had replaced marbles in the
pecking order of Cool Stuff, and every folder’s cover was crammed full of
them. “Smurf you later” was how you
parted company, and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes wore more makeup than Joan
Collins. We either hung out by the cistern
or the wall at break and lunch. In a
daring bid to become the most uncool chick in school I posed a double threat as
captain of the debating team for Tarpon House and captain of the quiz
team. I was also terrible at all sports,
last to be chosen for any side whether it was netball or softball. I came 103rd out of 105 in the cross country
competition, and that’s only because two other girls got injured and couldn’t
complete the race. As you can imagine, I
was wildly popular.
By the time we moved into Sixth
Form we were whittled down to a smaller group, but the japes continued. We had our own cubicles and, for the first
time in our educational lives, free periods.
Oh yes, and we were allowed to drive out at lunch if we were lucky
enough to have a license and a car. Burger
King in town saw a lot of us trying to master a stick shift in our final year.
So there I was, getting ready for
my reunion. I donned a short designer
red dress I purchased last Christmas, and Steve Madden black boots with six
inch heels that pulled up over the knee.
Pirate hooker wasn’t exactly the look I’d been going for but sometimes
these things are a surprise. I arrived
at Margaritaville with exactly two hours allowed on the clock before I had to
go and host karaoke. As I made my way
through the crowd, familiar faces popped up left, right and centre. There was Debbie, Finley, Ruth, Lynn, William…more
and more followed and I realized how none of them seemed to have aged since
school. Maybe there’s something to
living in the Caribbean, I don’t know, but we all (note how I subtly include
myself there) looked terrific for our average 40 years old each.
There were many hugs and catching
up. I was told over and over again that
I hadn’t changed since school – I chose to take it as a compliment. Before I had to leave we had a group
photograph, and there I was, dead centre standing out a mile with big hair and
a bright red dress. It had only been a
couple of hours, but I realized how much affection we all still had for each
other and how genuinely happy we were to have this evening together.
School wasn’t always a great laugh,
but the memories of teasing and bad grades fade. What are left behind are all the fun stories
and the friendships that never die, even when you are separated by months or
years of leading different lives. We
don’t grow up and change as much as we think we do, and I’ve realized that
ain’t necessarily a bad thing.
Graduating Class of 1985 – I’ll see you in another 25; if not before…