“I barely recognize my own reflection.” This is a line in a song I heard that caught my ear this week. The last 3 days I have spent reflecting and remembering. This weekend was my 30th year high school class reunion. I started my preparations for the reunion on Thursday. I dug my yearbooks out of my “hopeless” chest. I didn’t want to face people and be totally in the dark as to whom was who. I found my yearbooks from 7th-12th grades. I found my group class pictures for kindergarten, 1st & 4th grade. I looked at the pictures and read the “autograph” sheets. As I looked at the pictures, I chuckled some. As I read the words printed by classmates and teachers, I was astonished by them. I wondered just who they were talking about. Some I wondered just who they were. Names I didn’t recognize were scribbled below a nice sentiment. Some names were first names only. I guess we thought we would always be able to recognize that handwriting and signature. I was astonished by the sentiments because I certainly don’t remember me that way. I don’t remember the school days the same way they were portraying it. The reflections they were providing were not the reflections my memory held.
It would appear I was the class clown in many entries, even by teachers. I was the lunch table entertainer. I just don’t recall it that way. Actually I don’t recall much about school except feeling awkward, out of place, and struggling to feel like I belonged. According to many entries and many recalled stories at the reunion itself I was the one who always had a smile on her face. I was the one that always brought a laugh to the table and made people feel “at home”. I was “a ray of sunshine”. One gal at the reunion blew me totally away with her memory of me. She was a gal I never felt liked me, always tried to make me feel unworthy and unwanted. She said she was always in awe of me because I was always so positive, always had a smile on my face and always put people at ease. WHAT? I wasn’t that at all. I was shy and tried to remain on the side of the stage. I heard several talk about my dry humor that snuck up on them, bit them and infected them with laughter. Evidentially I was a decent dancer. I felt like I had 3 left feet and no green thumbs. How can someone dance with 3 left feet? I can remember going to dances and dancing, but I sure don’t remember being a good dancer. Today the only thing that has major moves when I dance is the skin under my arms. Back then according to the entries on the autograph sheets, I guess several guys wished they would have been able to dance with me. Well, I think, why didn’t you ask? I guess they thought the guy I went to the dance with was the only one I was supposed to dance with. Anyway, it was a real eye opener to read what people said during an awkward time in life for any person. Growing up is not easy for the majority. To listen to them reminisce at the reunion was an eye opener as well. They reinforced everything I read on those autograph sheets. So maybe I was what they remembered me being. Sure wish I had the same memories.
At the reunion I pulled out the 7th-12th grade year books along with the group class pictures for kindergarten, 1st & 4th grade. It was so much fun to watch everyone look, laugh, remember and share. The elementary sheets spurred people to go find people in their elementary school. In Abilene there were 4 public schools and 1 Catholic school for grades Kindergarten through 6th grade. So for 7 years you went to school with the same people. Then in 7th grade all 5 schools consolidated into one Jr. High/Middle School (7th & 8th grades). Then on to High School (9th-12th grades). New friendships were formed in 7th grade, then again in 9th grade with different people older than you. Many of those friendships pulled you through your senior year. We gathered in our elementary school groups for a school picture, then into one large group for the graduating class. I thought how so many people from similar walks of life from the beginning, to so different walks of life in our adulthood were formed once again into one big common group. We had survived life in different fashions, different avenues, different modes, different life paces, different consequences and outcomes; but we had survived! And here we were sharing a common theme, even if it was just for one weekend. It didn’t matter if you were popular, pretty, talented, athletic, musical, outgoing, shy, a class clown, straight, gay, entertainer, intellect, or whatever; what mattered was you survived and had a story to tell. You mattered!
Yeah, I barely recognized my own reflection as presented through the eyes of people who probably had a clearer perspective than I did. Much of it wasn’t a familiar reflection to me, but I have to trust the printed words and the reminisces of the “masses” and believe it to be true. Maybe I wasn’t so alone growing up in the school system. Maybe I wasn’t so different from the next person. Maybe I made a difference to someone within my reach all those frustrating growing years. Maybe I still make a difference today. I sure hope so.
Means you can't change the modifications or complications that come with maturing,
you might as well laugh about them.
~Patsy Clairmont paraphrased~