It is an odd thing seeing people after 30 years. Hearing their stories, talking about what you remember and what they do. There was a lot of “huh, I don’t remember that” or “that’s not how it happened”. I’ve discussed confabulation before. I saw a lot of it this past weekend. Some of the stories I’ve held onto for three decades are very different told from another’s perspective.
I attended all four years of high school in Kodiak (then came back after college and worked in the thankless world of substance abuse counseling, decided I want to be sane and stay married, so I switched to education: worked as a sub, then an aide, did my student teaching, and eventually became a teacher…).
Anyway, back when I went to Kodiak High, English 1 was the same class everyone took, so was English 2, General Science, Biology, Alaskan History and Geography, etc. We didn’t start to see separation until Junior and Senior years; so, while there were cliques, we still knew each other. Even then our graduating class only had about 90 people.
About a third, maybe, showed up at various points this weekend to one thing or another. It was fun. Exhausting. I have to be careful not to overdo it, so I picked and chose what I went to. But it was entertaining hearing what people are up to as adults and what they know about the people who were not here.
Our class had its troublemakers. The town had a drug problem in the 80’s and a lot of people at the high school made good money fishing that went to that hobby. It was an open secret. We even had a smoking section right next to the parking lot for those who preferred tobacco as their drug of choice. Drinking at bonfires on beaches and secret locations happened pretty regularly. The legal ramifications weren’t as solidified as they are today.
It was also really interesting to hear their take on the people who were my bulliers/ tormentors and my heroes/ saviors. A couple of names came up for the first group, they were pronounced many synonyms for jerks that aren’t terribly appropriate to write out loud. A few pranks were mentioned, some people said “Hmm, I might have been in on that, wow, I was such a brat (or other term – use your imagination here!).” Bullying was a pretty serious issue – not just for me. But then the conversation moved on to the heroes.
We actually had quite a few of those at my school. And most of them did it without saying a word. They could just be present and by doing so the bullying behaviors would stop. One of the guys here this weekend was a huge partier – but he was safe. He would always give a hug, never be inappropriate and if he found out somebody was doing so to a girl, would make sure they quit. He had a scary rep, but he didn’t allow girls to be messed with. Another, not a scary dude like the first, but really big physically, would enter a situation, smile his big smile and just hang out until everyone realized he was there and everyone would simply chill out. I don’t know if he was aware of the impact or not, but our freshman year he stopped the kids who kept tripping me and my trombone on the bus simply by switching to the same stop as me. Never said a word.
It’s nice to look back and realize that there was some balance. So often it is easy to recall the negative experiences and emotions from our lives. But one of the things that this reunion showed me was how eye opening it can be to pull back up the fun times too. The ridiculous hall decorations for Christmas. The Spirit Week outfits we used to dress up in. The personalities of some of the more flamboyant characters from back then – students and teachers. So, all the talking and comparing notes and laughter, and yeah an occasional misty eye this week have been really enjoyable.
Plus, I got to dress up and go to a dance again. That was one of my very, most favorite parts of high school anyway! Who doesn’t love to dance to 80’s rock music? It’s like, totally rad!!