Ask your current friends, "What was your high school like?" and I bet you'll get this.
"Hated it. Couldn't wait to get out."
"Worst time of my life."
"Couldn't stand those (choose one or more) jocks/nerds/drama queens/suck-ups/deadbeats who were (choose again) boring/weird/deranged/back-stabbing/shallow/gossipy."
Ask them if they attend class reunions. They might say:
"Why in the world would I want to do that?"
"I didn't care about them then and I don't care about them now."
"I haven't kept in touch with any of them, so, no."
In my own utterly unscientific random sampling of my generation, I have concluded that high school was pretty much a bust; if not a total disaster, then potentially the most annoying time ever, with angst and insecurity as much of the daily routine as was the cafeteria food served on plastic trays.
I can't argue with the angst and insecurity; I felt that, too. I can't deny that I was often impatient to start the next chapter in college. My classmates surely felt the same.
But our friendships were so strong that they superseded the agony that is high school and have lasted all these years since.
My high school was nicknamed "The Castle on the Hill" for its architecture. But let me tell you, this place was no fairy tale. It was an overcrowded inner city school, a hard scrabble, sometimes unstable hotbed of occasional learning and sporadic unrest. My class consisted of almost 900 students.
We learned how to be street smart real fast. You had to. Yet many of us were avid students who also enjoyed after-school activities -- clubs, sports, student government and committees -- even before you had to be active if you wanted college admissions directors to notice you.
We loved showing our school spirit. We loved being together.
Outside of school? Same thing. I remember chilly Friday night home football games, forming caravans to travel to away games, school dances, hanging out in the Evans' basement. On Sunday afternoons the guys would play touch football on a local field and that's where we would gather with our transistor radios blasting top 40 tunes. There wasn't a lot to do in our town, but just being together made a whole lot of nothing a whole lot of fun.
We said our goodbyes on a sunny day in June after tossing our mortarboards in the air. The anticipation for summer and college was tinged with melancholy because we knew that we were losing something that mattered a lot: our community.
This bittersweetness turned out to be the cement that has kept us in touch ever since. And since we are turning 60 this year, we wanted to celebrate this milestone together.
Twenty of us traveled to New York City last weekend. Friday night we saw "Motown, the Musical" and knew every word of the memorable songs that were the playlist of our adolescence.
Even better, we celebrated one of our very own on Saturday night, at "Love in the Middle Ages," a clever, witty and laugh-a-minute musical written by our very talented classmate and friend, Eric Kornfeld. It is sold out for the rest of its run, but if you're lucky you might be able to catch it when it returns in January.
Turning 60 isn't all that bad when you've got friends who have known you forever and still love you with all your imperfections. As we grow older and perhaps more nostalgic, we recognize that our high school experience was not typical. But we are grateful that it was what it was.
"We turned out OK," is usually said by at least one of us.
To which everyone else nods in agreement.
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