If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed a bunch of photographs of me and some other old drunk people. You see, I spent Saturday night at my 20-year high school reunion. It was weird, surreal, fun, sweet, bittersweet, comforting, strange, and hilarious all at once. If i had to describe it, i would say that the only other experience that comes close to this one is maybe my own wedding. To have that many folks that have been a part of your life and of your memories for that long come together in one room, with alcohol, was just really wild.
Todd decided to come to my reunion with me, which was amazing, because i fully expected him to bail on me for the Cam Newton show in Auburn. (And I totally would have understood, and would have ditched him in the same situation.) We got to the hotel just in time for Todd to head to the bar to catch kickoff while I checked us in. Todd came up to me at the desk as I was wrapping up, to help me with the bags, and said, “I just met Josh Wright at the bar. He went to Auburn.” I laughed out loud; I barely knew Josh Wright in high school, but my husband was already hanging out with him at the bar. I sensed right then and there that it would be an interesting night.
This is Jason.
I used to think he was my best friend, but I think he lost out to Camille, since he didn’t come to the reunion with me, and instead chose his “new” college friends over me. No, I don’t even care that he was there to see Ealey rush for 157 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Todd, Camille and I shared a room. Camille’s husband was out of town. We decided to get there early so that we could get checked in, and then go get some food pre-reunion. Otherwise known as “laying a base,” for drinking. You need to have a good foundation, you know. Here is Camille, on Spring Break in 1990:
In between the taking of these photos, we have taken a look at our choices, gotten into a good bit of trouble hanging out with the boys, finished college together (who is that third person? He looks so familiar . . . ):
. . . been in each other’s weddings, and watched each other become mothers. And here is Camille on Saturday, popping her first beer of the afternoon.
So, we met Doug and Steph, Nat and Ryan, Chris and Aimee (his wife, not the Aimee in our graduating class), and Brett and his fiancee, Lucy, for pizza at Diesel. (I have to admit, Roswell has better dining choices than it did back when I was a kid and we used to drive to the McDonald’s there, because Alpharetta didn’t even have one.) We drank beer. Ate pizza. Laughed a lot.
After the meal, we headed back to the hotel and the boys went to the bar to watch football, while the girls came back to the room and we changed. There is something so sweet about getting dressed with the girls, and having the pre-event giggles together.
Aimee hung in there like a champ, even though she doesn’t know us all that well, and we are all completely nuts. Big shout out to Priscilla and Charlie for hunting us down and coming down to say hi while we got ready. I should also say here that if I looked at all decent for the reunion or the photos I was in, it was only because I came out of the bathroom thinking I was dressed, then was sent back in to “put on more makeup.” In truth, without Steph and Nat, I would never have put on lipstick at all.
So, after that, we went to Kim Thomas’ room for drinks with The Six Pack.
The Six Pack may or may not know this, but their little self-applied label was both the source and the object of much gnashing of teeth, hurt feelings, anger, and derision back in the day. Seems stupid and funny now, and pre-reunion drinks with you all was one of my favorite parts of the evening. (And not just because we all had freshly-applied makeup, were all sober, and were photographed well by the talented Leigh Helenbrook!)
And then we were off to the lobby. On the way down in the elevator, we ran into Tommy Sudderth. He regaled us with the horror story of Camille stabbing him in the knee in first grade. By the time we got off the elevator, we were all almost in tears from laughing so hard.
And man. . . talk about weird. Put on seventy pounds since the last time you saw them, get all dressed up, have a few drinks, and step off an elevator and walk straight into a crowd of people you went to school with from fourth grade to twelfth grade. Very, very strange. It’s like a haunted house or personal horror show, tailored specifically to your own personal phobias and Achilles heels. They might as well run a film on the wall of your most embarrassing moments. Everyone* in the room knows just about everything about you.
People who saw blood on the back of your white pants? There.
Girl whose house you were at when you puked up Buffalos wings and carrot sticks? There.
Guy who called you “Conan,” instead of “Anne?” There.
Girl whose boyfriend you stole and you haven’t talked to her since? There.
Boy you asked to dance at the dance in 8th grade, when you looked like this?
The one you imagined must have laughed about it later with his friends? There.
All the girls that were in your tent on the Girls Scout camping trip in 4th grade when you peed in your sleeping bag and then had to lie around until everyone else was up so that you could cover it up and no one would know? I think they were all there. That was a big tent, and I have tried to block that memory from my mind for years.
First love? There.
First boy who asked you “to go with him?” and let you wear his jacket in 4th grade? There.
Girl who whispered “bitch” behind you in the hall? The one you turned around and gave an icy stare, and then later went in the smokers’ bathroom and cried because you felt so bad, because you thought it was a little true? There.
People who witnessed you and others wallowing together at a party after homecoming over (supposedly) broken hearts? There.
Guy that gave you the creeps on the bus? There.
Friend who hooked up with an ex-boyfriend and probably has no idea that you know that she did it? There.
Girl that wrote a note in 9th grade to your close male friend whom she was dating who said she couldn’t believe that you ever “went together?” Yep, she was there.
People who witnessed you get into a girl fight at a party? Yep. There.
The boy you are not sure if you made out with or not at a party because you passed out and don’t remember? Okay, he wasn’t there. Neither were the ones that called you “four tits,” because you were so flat that your ribs stuck out more than your boobs, or the guy that you overheard telling your boyfriend you weren’t as pretty as his ex. But you get the point.* Names withheld to protect the innocent. Most of you know who you are. All of you please consider yourselves forgiven. Or apologized to, as applies.
And you know what? After the initial shock of it all wore off, it just wasn’t that scary anymore. It was maybe even kinda nice. Maybe.
I saw tons of people that i wasn’t really friends with in high school that I’ve connected with on Facebook, like Stefanie:
I saw people who lived in my n’hood growing up, like Ryan.
I spent a whole summer hanging out with his best friend playing pool and drinking beer in his parents’ basement while my friend made out with him in another room. I also witnessed him breaking his arm tripping over a railroad tie.
Andrea and Michelle:
Andrea dated a friend of mine and I later lived with him in a different state. Michelle? I got drunk in a tent at her house and made out with her brother on a trampoline. Later, she set me up with my first real high school boyfriend. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.
Got to hang out a lot with Brett, a.k.a. Peter Pan, which was awesome.
Brett in high school:
And Brett now:
We have stayed in touch all these years. Little-known fact: He was my first husband. Senior Marriage Project. Can’t believe how dumb that class is looking back on it now. Brett did all the research and work while Charlie and I made googly eyes at each other. Brett went to Furman, but then he just couldn’t stay away from me, and so he followed me to UGA. He wrote a poem for me when my heart was broken, and I still have it on a shelf in my den. He is engaged now to the beautiful and awesome Lucy.
She did v. well at the reunion, even though she was probably like, “Oh my God, there are so many old folks here.” Lucy and Brett, watch out. I have the date on my calendar and i plan to be there.
Here’s one of me and Todd.
Not that great a picture of me, but how handsome is my husband? He cracked me up. I had about five people come up to me during the reunion and tell me how awesome my husband is. . . . Brent St. Vrain actually said that he likes my husband better than me. No idea how he met all these folks, but it is nice to have a husband I can take to things like this that will fend for himself and not have his feelings hurt when I ditch him.
Here is me with The Punisher.
a.k.a. Priscilla. We had homeroom together, and she did a lot of punishing. I cannot remember why she said “Punish!” so much, or why she called everyone “skank” as an endearment, but I love her. Funny the things we remember and love about people.
And here is Camille, with Tommy, re-enacting the aforementioned First Grade Pencil Stabbing incident.
So funny. Tommy had us rolling on the floor with laughter telling us how he used this as a cautionary tale against brandishing lead pencils with his own children.
Miriam and Mary!
Miriam has one of the best, most contagious laughs ever. And Mary and I used to talk about horses all the time in elementary school. (Do all girls have another girl that they used to talk about horses with?) We all played volleyball together, along with Camille and Sonya, in high school.
Darby and Camille:
So, I’m not sure why, but Darby was one of the people that I almost burst into tears upon seeing. I am not sure why this is, except that she is one of the funniest and nicest people that i have ever met, and I feel like we are kindred spirits. Darby, it was great to finally hug you in person after having some really meaningful and amazing conversations with you the past year or so. Let’s please not wait another 15 or 20 years before seeing one another again.
Okay. I’m coming out.
This is Nat. I am finally admitting it. I love her. Really truly love her, and she is one of my best friends. Despite the fact that i detested her in high school. And kind of in college, too. She is still a drama queen, vain, and sometimes a bit of a barbie doll. She is also smart, funny, kickass, fun, and one of my favorite people to get drunk with, because like me, frankly, my dear, she doesn’t give a damn. I love ya Nat, slutty skirts, and heels and embarrassing moments and all.
And look, she can actually keep her mouth shut! Photographic evidence!
But never for long. . .
Dave and Stacy:
Stacy told me she thought i was “nice” in high school. Ha! We did not know each other very well. Dave was the Roswell Hornet. He was also my first ever homecoming date. He asked me because he had just gotten dumped and he didn’t have a date. We went in a car with some older friend who could drive. I think we were in tenth grade and couldn’t drive yet? I remember the fear of popping open beers in the backseat of that kids’ car – It was maybe mustard yellow and a gremlin or something like that? – And what would my mom say about drinking and driving? And yet we did it anyway. (Frightening to think of now, as a parent.) We had the photo taken and then went and climbed through a window into Lon Feldman’s basement and drank beer until my curfew. I didn’t really like the taste of beer back then. (As you can see, i got over it.) I wore the famous champagne pink shiny flammable dress when I climbed through that basement window:
Yep, my impeccable deportment began at a tender young age.
So, they finally shut us down, and everyone stumbled downhill to Tony’s. That place has been there forever, and hasn’t really aged all that well, but by that point, we were past caring.
Nat and Charlie!
Could have knocked me over with a feather that Charlie showed up, as he is not on Facebook, so it’s like he doesn’t. even. exist. It was great seeing him, though, and I’m glad he showed. All the way from Connecticut. Unlike some people. . .
I think my very sober little group stayed until after last call, then decided to hit Krystal on the walk back.
And then we realized that they wouldn’t let us walk through the drive-thru (evidently, my husband is v. persuasive, though, and managed to do just that), so we had to walk up Holcomb Bridge Rd., at three a.m., dodging traffic to go across the street to The Waffle House. Yes, that Waffle House. The one we all used to go to back in the day. Except that I think they razed the original building and built a new one on the same spot. Either that, or I was way more drunk than I thought i was, because it looked very different, down to being oriented differently on the property than I remembered it being, but still, all late night roads lead to Waffle House.
And then we all got tired. And had to walk back. Up that damn hill. Then we made faux Prom pictures under the arch of green, white, and black (Go Hornets?) balloons that were still in the hotel lobby. (Not suitable for public consumption.)
Did I mention that it was a sad event, too? Yes. Sad that the following folks broke our hearts:
Jennifer Durkee (and Jerry!)
Alicia Bruner, Carrie Winter! Somehow you escaped my camera all of those years – an amazing feat. And with the reunion, you have foiled me again! The rest of you, consider yourselves lucky that I didn’t post some of the other pictures.
You all suck for taking just a little bit of joy away from those who wanted to see you. (Anyone I left out? I bet there are more of you, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.) You are all a huge chunk of my childhood, middle school, and high school memories, and the evening felt incomplete without you there. Also, you missed a damn good time.
To those of you who attended, I love you all. Each and every one of you. I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to sit down and have a good chat with every single person there.
Oh, and one last thing: I can’t tell you how truly touched I was by the number of people who went out of their way to tell me that they read my blog regularly and like it. I was a bit floored by that one, as I had no idea, since none of you actually subscribe to my feed. (Shameless self-promotion.)
Here I was, thinking that I was writing in a veritable vacuum!
You all posed a bit of a dilemma for me when I sat down to write this. Do I write it completely honestly, as if no one was reading it, the way I have always written it? Do I write it without thinking about who I am writing for, or who will read it? Or do i pull the punch?
I guess y’all can see which one I’ve chosen. Hopefully, no one will be freaked out or embarrassed by reading about themselves on here. I made every effort to leave out anything incriminating (and boy did i have some incriminating evidence!) And if you are a little freaked out, or embarrassed, you need to get a backbone and a sense of humor!
Just kidding. Just read back through my litany of embarrassing moments earlier in the post and you will feel much better about yourself. Plus, you are in the company of friends, and we all know everything about your personal horror show already!
Please, please, please take care of all yourselves and your loved ones until we meet again.