Don’t You Forget About Me

In late June, the Parkway Central Class of 1980 held a not-for-real-semi-casual-class reunion. It was not-for-real because two hundred of our class-mates couldn’t be found-incorrect phone numbers, lack of forwarding addresses. When Parkway said they couldn’t sponsor a thirty-fifth reunion because of this, we decided to have one anyway. Via Facebook, information was posted and as the date grew closer messages were sent encouraging class-mates to attend.

Actually, I believe we all were asking our friends to come with us. Strength in numbers.

“Nobody wants to go to a reunion, until they are there,” is what my husband said when on that Saturday I got jittery. I did want to go. I had grown up, changed through life and experience and had always lived by the, “Live and let live” philosophy. I had had a good high school experience. Being on drill team (Parkettes) helped with friends and a social life. I had known some of my class-mates since kindergarten. And when I think of high school I always smile. We had good, clean fun. We were silly and goofy, but it was a good time. In high school I was afraid of boys. That, too, had changed.

There were many excuses why people couldn’t come. My thought was if you want to come, come and enjoy yourself. If you really don’t want to be there, for whatever reason, that was okay, too. I couldn’t think of any reason NOT to go. It wasn’t that I was all-in from minute one. But I realized that I wasn’t as nervous this time around as I was for our twentieth reunion. I couldn’t figure out why. I just wanted to go.

The week before as crazy e-mails and Facebook messages flew across the internet and I became “friends” with many of my former class-mates, I knew this evening was going to be okay. In fact, I realized that as we had grown up (because we had); I had much more in common with many of my class-mates. And, as it turns out, even if you weren’t friends in high-school, you can re-connect and become friends later in life.

Geralyn Webbe Jacob, whom I knew in high school and had recently reconnected with at our gym, said this when I mentioned that I was happy that we were friends now, “Sharon O’Neill and I have known each other since 1st grade but were never good friends. Our real friendship started only 5 years ago! It is such a unique experience to be with people who know the part of me that comes from my childhood. It is comforting and weird at the same time.”

That was my feeling, too. The class of ’80 had a shared history. Good, bad or indifferent, we were all there at the same time, together. We shared the school, the parties, the people and the times. Regardless of any friendships I made after high school, my class-mates and I would always be bound together because of this shared time and memories during our teen years.

The evening of the reunion was a beautiful St. Louis night. We met at the outside bar of The Lakehouse at Creve Coeur Lake. As I got out of my car, I heard myself saying, “What am I doing?” Since this is the year of my being brave, I took a deep breath and continued inside.

From the minute I walked in, I was glad that I was there. Everyone was happy and smiling and welcoming. We were all happy to be there, among friends. Very old friends who knew us at our best and yes, maybe at our worst. Regardless, everyone was out-going and friendly. And wow, did we age well.

I have to admit I didn’t remember everybody, but everybody didn’t remember me. For a good part of the evening I was with my friend Merle, who, I’ve known since we were three and Sheri who I’ve known since middle school. Everyone made the rounds and caught up. It was fun to see best friends together again (Kelly and Keith) and to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since high school (Loren). But it was also comforting to know that friendships made as kids and in high school remain solid.

I’ve decided that who we were in high school has stayed with us. Yes, we’ve become better, more grounded, open-minded people. And certainly, even if those people are somewhere inside of us, we’ve also changed. We have grown up. And we have become the people we were meant to be. Did everyone follow their dreams? Was everyone doing what they set out to do? Were we happy?

I’m not sure a reunion would answer these questions. I just know what I saw.

And what I saw and felt was a group of people happy to be together.

We might not be able to identify the princess, the brain, the crazy, the jock or the criminal. And by this time, nobody even cares. But, like The Breakfast Club found out…we are all a little bit of each. And, we are all a little bit more.

Sincerely, the Parkway Central Class of 1980.

Don’t you forget about me.

This piece was written in 2015. The picture is from our 41st reunion, rescheduled to 2021. Where we had an amazing weekend!!!

About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.