What is it about school reunions that we find so intriguing? For a romance writer, it’s a great vehicle for a love story. The book practically writes itself. Our heroine decides, albeit nervously, to go to her high school reunion. She thinks about that boy she knew in school… Might be that she dumped him and now she’s sorry, maybe he dumped her and she never got over it, or, just as interesting, she and the boy were best friends all through high school but always dated others. The years pass, she gets on with her life, maybe even marries, but she never quite forgets that boy. Things don’t work out so well for our heroine. The marriage didn’t last or she never married. Then comes the announcement, her high school reunion. She thinks of the boy and wonders if he’ll be there. She wonders what happened to him over the years. She might Google him and search for a recent photo to see if he looks the same. IShe is happy to see the years have been kind. You can guess the rest, including the ending where our heroine and the boy find that, even after all these years, they are each other’s soul mate.
My high school reunion was this summer. But my scenario is quite different since I went to an all girls’ school. I didn’t think about any one particular individual, but wondered if, besides my two friends who I’d kept in touch with, I’d have anything to say to anyone else. I wondered too if many people would attend. As in the case with many single sex schools, because enrollment was down, the school closed about five years ago. I worried how that would have an impact on who would make the effort.
In fact was there was a huge turnout. People flew in from all over the country. Instead of deadly awkward silence during the two meals and reception, my classmates and I bustled around talking to everyone. The cliques, and it’s a given that there were some, practically disappeared. We were all thrilled to reconnect or, more likely at least in some cases, connect for the first time.
I talked to and sat with people I’d never spoken to during my four years of high school and found in many cases that I’d more in common with people I’d hardly known back then than I had with some of my present day closest friends. We had gone to The Academy and it seemed our shared experience had indelibly shaped us.
As I said, it was an all girls school, it was also a Catholic school, with certain values that were taken as a given. I’d also thought that I was the product of my parents and the home they raised me. What I learned over that weekend reunion is that this little high school on Long Island also had a big impact on me, on my values, and helped to shape my personality.
One of my wish it had been different was that I didn’t go to the public school in my small town. I always regretted that I hadn’t been more a part of my community, didn’t walk to and from school with my friends or date boys that were in my class. It’s why I felt so strongly that my children go to the local public school.
What I discovered at my reunion was the value of what I did experience. There was in that little school an emphasis on how important and powerful women can be in the world. Considering the time, the mid-60’s, my parents’ decision to send me might have been exactly right and the lessons I learned at The Academy were just what was needed for my future. My story is not a love story, but nonetheless, another chapter in self-development.
Deborah Nolan is the author of SUDDENLY LILY and CONFLICT OF INTEREST both published by Montlake and SECOND ACT FOR CARRIE ARMSTRONG published by Desert Breeze Publishing.