I was one of those people who loved high school. I loved the academic intensity, the social buzz, the committees, clubs, teams – you name it, I embraced it. That’s why, when I had the chance to go home and revisit that time in my life at my twenty-year reunion, I grabbed it.
Going home was rife with emotional baggage. My hometown of St. Stephen, New Brunswick holds a sacred place in my heart; it’s the place I grew up and became who I am. Along with my family, the town played an integral role in my development. Its citizens and peaceful way of life protected me and nurtured me until I was ready to leave and face the challenges of the world. For that charming, innocent childhood, I am eternally grateful.
I was nervous about my reunion. What would it be like to see people after twenty years? With Facebook, there were no major surprises, but nothing holds a candle to face-to-face interaction. I had seen some friends at our ten-year reunion, and there are a handful that I’ve remained close with over the years. However, for the large part, we were reuniting after two decades.
The only way I can describe the mood of that night is joyous. Our host for the evening was the charming new local restaurant, Bistro on the Boulevard. Aaron Ganong and Diane Ganong, the proprietors, went out of their way to make the evening perfect for us with delectable food and drinks, and elegant, European ambience.
We had only about a quarter or fifth of our class attend, but everyone who was there was as happy to be there as I was. Hug after hug, tear-filled embraces, laughter, nostalgia about the past, catching up on the in-between. Meeting husbands, wives, kids. How do you fill in a twenty-year gap?
There was no time for small talk. Every interaction was meaningful. It had to be – so much to catch up on and so little time. We shared our lives – marriages, break-ups, loss of loved ones, career changes, children, emotional life-changes. The bonds were intact and our friendships alive after so long.
The thing is, unless you’ve been there, it’s difficult understand what it’s like to grow up in a small town. For the most part, I was with the same group of kids from kindergarten to Grade 12. We grew up together, and saw each other almost every day for nearly fourteen years. We tumbled in and out of each other’s homes as children and then as teenagers. That kind of history fosters relationships that transcend physical distances and long gaps of time.
I am so grateful that I went home for this event. It warmed my hear to return to 1990 for one night.
Here’s a picture of myself, Harold and Rhonda – we were the co-planners of the evening. We had no idea what to expect, but we ended up being very happy with the outcome.
A surprise guest was one of my favourite teachers of all time, Herb Duplissea and his lovely wife Lynda. He taught me high school English for 3 of my 4 years, and I loved his class. I chose English Literature as my major at university, and I strongly credit his influence on that decision!