Nostalgia: His and Hers

A couple of Matthew’s college chums are visiting over the weekend. There’s been much housecleaning. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for these next few days, but I expect a shopping trip and a gaming night will be in there. It’ll be fun seeing old friends getting back together again, even if it is a second hand sort of reunion for me, being the stray spousal type and all.

Coincidentally, I got an invite to my 15-year high school reunion in the mail the other day. I even gave it passing consideration, but I couldn’t justify paying the admission costs, airfare, and whatever accommodations we’d end up with. I do wonder, though, who will show and what they’re doing now.

My high school is a pretty unique institution. For admission, prospective students have to go through a rigorous application process, sort of a pre-college experience where you take an aptitude test, write an entrance essay, list your extra-curricular activities, and get academic references, all during sixth grade. Subsequently, the first year in that school isn’t “freshmen” year, but “subfreshmen,” which is a melding of seventh and eighth grade. This also bumps most of the student body up another year in acceleration. The majority of students there graduate a year or two ahead of their peers, as a good number of them have been accelerated in previous grades (raises hand). Hence, I graduated from high school when I was sixteen.

It’s an excellent school. When I was a student there, the whole student body numbered at two hundred and fifty heads, with fifty per graduating class. I think they’ve increased that to sixty since then, but the overall numbers are quite intimate. Students there really do know everyone in their class, and to a lesser extent, everyone in the school. It offers(ed) a wide range of languages like Russian, Japanese, and Latin, as well as the more traditional French and German. And their math and sciences department is unparalleled. My old school has often achieved the honor of being the highest scoring in the nation on the ACTs and SATs.

And yet even with such an illustrious achievement record, one still has to take into account that the kids who attend(ed) my school are and were still just that. Kids. Precocious and clever, yes. But there was still a lot of cliquish behavior, and bullies. Can’t forget the bullies. It was a bastion of insecurity and petty cruelties, like high schools everywhere, perhaps made worse by the highly competitive nature of the place. I look back on those years with a blend of dismay and fondness. I really did learn a lot back then–both academically and socially. I grew into the person I am now, learned to question and doubt, and learned the very important lesson that what I did had consequences. I also learned that some people’s preferred method of feeling better about themselves is by stepping on other people. In other words, I grew up. In many ways I’m very much the same person I was then–my beliefs, my outlook on life, my proclivities–but in others I’ve changed; I’ve come into myself. But, really, I mean, how can someone not change in fifteen years? I’m very curious to see how my classmates have also changed, and I wonder how much of the young people I remember remain.

If we still lived in the Midwest, I might consider going back for it. But I can’t rationalize the expense of flying to a section of America that is truly ugly, flat, and dull, for my high school reunion.

I hope whoever covers the event for the Alumni Newsletter takes lots of pictures.

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