The 20 Year Reunion Part 2 – and into the night we danced

While everyone in attendance likely has a different opinion of how the St. Malachy’s High School 1991 Graduating Class 20 Year Reunion went and of what they remember, made them laugh, made them uncomfortable or even made them think twice of another person, the following is from my point of view only.

A few days before the reunion an old acquaintance that I see once or twice per year facebooked asking if I’d like to get together with a few others for supper and a drink before hand. I immediately agreed as up until then I had many horrid day dreams of walking into and having to face the reunion alone.

I showered and dawned the special $3.00 second hand dress and 10 year old sandals and waited for Lisa to pick me up. We met up with Cynthia, whom I’ve been great acquaintances with since age four and Brian whom I don’t quite remember from high school, but was impressed that he is as geeky and nerdy as I am. We met at the Ale House, a popular local restaurant and enjoyed some great food and conversation together.

My stomach had been hurting and turning for days and as we left the restaurant and began walking to The White Room, a high end licensed venue a few short blocks away, it really picked up in the knot factor. We bumped into a couple of grads on the way and my stomach flip flopped more. We entered the building. We walked up the three flights of stairs. I could feel vomit coming up my throat. The culmination of 20 years of swallowing it was not going to happen tonight. I literally stood there thinking I need to go to the bathroom now and darted past the ticket booth to the bathroom. Sadly, I *threw-up a little bit and returned to get my ticket feeling a little shaken, but okay.

After getting the ticket, which was prepaid by a grad who graciously purchased and donated tickets to those who needed them, I went to the bar and ordered a drink. It was an open bar which was quite unexpected! I ordered red wine and promptly began looking for people I recognized. I settled in standing at a high table talking with a few old classmates and began expressing concerns as they did theirs. It seemed many people had some sort of reservation or hang up about coming to the reunion. My shoulders relaxed as I explained what had happened in high school. Honesty has a way of cleansing the soul combined with the simple fact that no one can judge you for telling the truth. It certainly vindicated the fear and hence calmed it.

I spotted a couple of women who when they saw me looked straight through me just as they did in high school. I saw the extremely cute guys, the jocks, the pretty girls, the geeks, the awkward ones, the shy ones, the smart ones and the proud and realized it was all okay. I really didn’t want to see that ex-boyfriend show up. I didn’t tell everyone but told people who seemed to open up and share parts of their personal selves with me too. Not one person questioned it. No one knew it had happened and how could they for I didn’t tell anyone back then. People shared their secrets and fears with me too. Shoulders relaxing more and confidence creeping in.

The White Room is a third floor venue inside a 150 year old building in Uptown Saint John. It literally is painted white from floor to ceiling and from walls to furniture. It was hard to listen and talk to people at times due to the volume of the bands and we four to six who stood around the high table all agreed that we were happy to have a home base to lean on, a crutch so to speak, so that we didn’t have to venture into the open sea of no man’s land where the crowds had nothing but themselves to lean on.

The old high school band, The Zoo, reunited for the evening and played a few sets along with a few other local talented song writers and musicians. It was awesome and brought back many happy memories of listening to them during assembly’s in the auditorium. Everyone looked beautiful and everyone was feeling happy as the wine, beer and punch continued to flow.

I danced most of the night with Cindy, Cynthia and Karen and then off and by myself once the DJ took over and the light show began. There were many smiles. The mood was festive and lively. Many pairs of high heels slowly began lining the walls as women danced in their bare feet. And surprisingly, one third of my grad class smokes cigarettes. So the party continued down at street level too when the smokers took those breaks that we need to take.

The night moved onwards and most seemed to stop worrying about what people think. I had trouble conversing with a few men and women too. I couldn’t quite get past what I thought of them in high school which was all good things, but I’m super shy at times and had trouble hearing their voices over the music, so I smiled a lot. I have acute intense hearing and all the sounds blended together. They are as good looking now and they were back then and I know my cheeks blushed and I felt 17 years old again and was thankful for the red decorative lights of glowing St. Mac’s coloured decorations that hopefully hid my cheeks from them.

Near the end of the evening a rather tall man, that I only slightly remembered from school approached and asked me to dance. I said no, stating that I always dance alone. He persisted in saying, he’d love to lead me in a dance. I replied, no man has ever successfully lead me in a dance, which was the truth. He grabbed my hand and he lead me in a lively dance. I was shocked.

By that time most everyone was foolishly intoxicated and the night ended around 2:30AM. I left with the tall man saying good bye to everyone. We walked to King Street and sat on a concrete step and talked to various reunion stragglers as they walked by on their way home or to their respective hotel rooms. We grabbed a cab and made our way back to my place. We sat on the backyard deck talking and laughing until well after sunrise. He left at 6:30AM and went to his friend’s place over town to sleep and he was from out of town.

It was good night. And I look forward to the 25th reunion in 2016.

What I learned…

  • Success is only relative to the eye of the beholder
  • People are just people
  • Honesty is calming
  • Facebook does bring you closer together
  • Dancing is still awesome
  • Smiles and laughter are the best communicators of all
  • When you least expect it, someone will sweep you off your feet and ask you out on a second date
  • The organizers of the reunion deserve many accolades
  • We are one great looking bunch of 37 and 38 year olds
  • Reunions bring back happy memories too

PS – I am forever grateful to Heather, who came to see me at the studio a month ago to pick up a matted print that I donated for a door prize and who listened to my concerns about attending the reunion. You are a wonderful and beautiful person and your smile is contagious.

*Throughout life I’ve been accused of being bulimic or anorexic as I’m not large in stature. I’ve NEVER had either of those diseases and eat and enjoy healthy food each and every day. But my nerves get bad from hypothyroidism and anxiety, just as everyone else’s can and the first thing to go on me is my belly when feeling anxious or threatened. Just ask my family and close friends. I can not digest fatty, deep fried or processed food without causing stomach or intestinal upset. I need to eat organic and pesticide free to keep the crohn’s disease in remission and my thyroid working properly.

**Photo courtesy of Steve Fernandez who at the end of the night bumped heads with me and spilled his whole glass of wine down the front of my cream and red floral dress. We both shared a good laugh! Haha! The photo above was taken very early on in the night. I’m standing near the center of the photo.

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7 thoughts on “The 20 Year Reunion Part 2 – and into the night we danced”

  1. Jess I am so happy the night turned out great for you and you had that group of friends to stick to. I have the same fears as you going to my 20th next year. I am even debating wether to go or not due to those fears of facing those bullies. I hope that when the time does come I can have the courage you did and face my fears!!! Sounds like you ended up having a great time. You will have to tell me about the most interesting part of the evening…..the guy!!!!!

    Love you girl;, so happy you had a great time.

  2. Jessica I had so much fun hanging out with you. I know how you felt about the knots in the stomach and unsure of going. That is the main reason I brought my husband with me. We had a code word that if I wanted to go we would go. No questions asked he would come up with a reason to leave. I am so glad that we got to talk and look forward to getting together again.

  3. Haha. Heaven forbid that someone just want to eat healthy and it not be a bad thing. I generally try to eat quite healthy just because. Why should I eat trash if I don’t have to?

    Glad that you had fun at the party. :) I was surprised to see the picture of the White Room. 😛 I didn’t know your reunion was up there.

  4. I had all the same fears Jess. I’m so glad we both overcame as I think that night was magical and revealed much of the same revelations as you mention. Let’s stay in touch!

  5. Well said Jess….and all very true. I wish the night was just a little longer…..I would have liked to have talked to you more.

  6. Ha!!! I was just admiring the cream and red floral dress… and how classy that lady looked… and of course, it turns out it was you! 😉

    I haven’t been to a high school reunion yet… I ignored the last invite, and now everyone I care to know is on Facebook, where I can see their vacation and birthday pics, and hear what terrible (or wonderful) things their children are doing. LOL

    I didn’t have those god-awful experiences that you had growing up… I was teased quite a bit, and threatened a few times, but never physically assaulted. I never felt scared to attend school… but I did have two close male friends who were both towering 6’3″ giants. My personal bodyguards. 😉

    I think you were incredibly brave to attend the reunion, and face those fears. You looked marvelous, and I’m sure you made a good impression on everyone who met you.

    Time has a way of softening people’s feelings towards one another… many are in denial that they ever bullied anyone. *grumbles*
    They remember high school like is was one big hippy-love-fest…. the entire class sitting barefoot in the grass, weaving daisy chains and playing music. It’s amazing really…

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