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Class reunion: I'm the young ‘me’

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Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 10:00 pm

I have no idea what I'm going to wear.

My hands sweat at the mere thought of what's coming up. When I look in the mirror, I normally don't fret over what is staring back at me.

But lately, I've been scrutinizing every line in my face and every gray hair on my head. And just when, I wonder as I stare at myself, did everything seem to start sliding south?

NOTHING strikes fear into the heart of a woman like an upcoming class reunion.

Theresa Larson

Class reunions are as agonizing as they are joyful. When our class graduated in 1972, we were so young - mere children in retrospect. And now? Well it's been over 30 years and we're … we're … uh, much more mature.

Our graduating class grew into young adulthood during interesting times. We attended high school during the peak of the Vietnam War. We lived in the aftermath of assassinations that took the lives of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.

We lived during a time of change and dichotomy. Race riots and peace rallies were the news of the day. Our 18-year-olds were marching off to war, but they were too young to vote. Yet somehow, our little town of Fremont and John F. Kennedy High School seemed to be insulated from the unrest that gripped our nation.

In high school, we lived in a self-made microcosm of life. Fair or not, we established strict social structure and groups. There were the "jocks" and cheerleaders, the nerds, the 4-0s and the "wanna-be-bad" south lawn crowd. Some had power, others were powerless. Some were leaders, others were followers. Some were joiners, others just didn't care.

Our class majored in non-participation and apathy. It was difficult to draw other students into becoming actively involved in clubs, student government or other school activities. However, come senior cut day, class participation rose to 95 percent.

School administrators were not amused.

As a freshman during the first few weeks of school, I was convinced that I would never be able to remember my class schedule, locker combination and classroom locations. But somehow, I survived. Four years later, we bid tearful goodbyes, our youthful idealism still intact and yet to be tempered by the realities of life.

Following graduation, we were like seeds blowing in the wind. Some took root in Fremont. Others settled far from home. Some went to college, others did not. Our class became doctors, lawyers, nurses and teachers, secretaries and working class citizens. We've married and some have divorced, we've had children and grandchildren. Many of us lament the aging process while some of us will never have the privilege of growing old.

Why would attending a 30-year class reunion be such an anxiety-ridden experience? I don't know, it shouldn't be.

My classmates were the people that knew "me" - before I was a wife, before I was a mother and grandmother. They knew the "me" that was filled with dreams and hopes when I was the girl stepping over the threshold into womanhood. My classmates knew me when more of my life was ahead of me than behind me.

But the "me" that will stand before them is different. The changes are simultaneously profound and superficial. And that's where the anxiety resides: Will anyone notice the profound and overlook the superficial?

Despite all my accomplishments and all the changes I've endured in life, inside, I am still that young girl. My ability to hope and dream remains intact. Now, if only that young girl step aside for a minute and stop looking in the mirror, maybe my "mature" self can decide what to wear.

Theresa Larson is the administration manager and biweekly columnist for the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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