This is in reality a recap of a recent high school reunion,
held at a random Marriot, in one of those godawful ballrooms
with a small dance floor, a mediocre hot and cold buffet,
ugly carpeting, huge chandeliers, and a poor sound system.
I dropped out of high school at 16,
ran away to Tijuana, Mexico and got illegally married,
so I didn't have a high school senior portrait
for the requisite name tag
for classmates to look at faces, from the past and present
to see if any bells of memories would ring.
I had to get an old photo from my mother
from the approximate year of graduation that
as she so pointedly said, "this is from your hippie days";
turned out to be the only one in color,
so just like in high school, I felt like the odd one out.
As I'm hanging the tag around my neck, a woman next to me says my name then hugs the heck out of me.
Instant memory, and I blurt it out, "The last time I saw you was in English class. You sat in front of me and turned to pass me a test, whispering loudly, 'You should really tweeze your eyebrows.'"
I should explain I hate this kind of event, but someone died
and there was a free (as opposed to $110) ticket raffle and I won.
So I went, hoping to hear some good stories, eat cheesecake, and leave early.
But that is not what happened.
The coolest thing was seeing people who I had known from 3rd grade to 8th grade.
One guy, now a hospital administrator, asked how I managed to escape the wrath of a certain math teacher, plus get A's, since I read unrelated books, like crazy, under the desk during class. "Well," I replied, "my Dad came to school drunk once and held the teacher up by the neck against the blackboard because he had treated my older brother in a demeaning manner, and my brother was really good at math, so when I came along, the teacher basically let me slide."
I sat at a table with a friend from the old neighborhood, she and I the only girls back then who the boys would allow to play "war" with them. She was always a nurse (in the game, plus now in real life) and I was Sgt. Saunders from the TV show Combat. Throwing dirt grenades and making my face look like I hadn't shaved for several days were my specialties. I also had my father's WW II army helmet which upped my status.
The whole night was like that, random, vivid memories.
Then after dinner, the slide show of "classmates no longer with us" was shown, lights dimmed, the saddest '70s song you could ever imagine (actually a break up song about love) reducing most of us to tears. The not-very-sensitive DJ cued the lights to come back brighter than before, and in a way-too-cheerful voice, announced dessert and dancing were about to commence. Nobody moved. Fast paced, happy dancing music from our youth was certainly not the smoothest transition from the slide show of the dead. The worst thing was the truly haunting, forever young face of a friend who committed suicide soon after graduation. Because she and I had started a lunch time girls' basketball game and slept over each other's houses, everyone began asking me if I knew why she did it. And since I had left sophmore year, but kept in touch with her, I did know. To this day, I believe I was the only one she ever told of the horror she lived in, though she never let on she was going to purposefully die to escape her living hell.
So to some who asked, I told what I knew and remembered. I felt it was time for the truth, time for her to rest in peace, time to put words to someone and something that forever changed my life.