I drove down Olive toward Creve Coeur Lake Road. After almost a week at my mother’s helping to get her new carpeting installed, I was heading to a happy hour organized as a run-up to the 40th reunion of my high school class this September. It was just coincidence that I happened to be in St. Louis for this event and on a whim I decided “why not”?
But as I drove there all I could think was “WHY”? I seriously considered just driving around for an hour and lying to anyone that asked about where I had been…”why yes, the happy hour? It was great fun! Saw lots of old friends!”.
But my mother’s car turned on to Creve Coeur Lake Road and continued to head toward The Lake House, where we were all supposed to meet. This wasn’t going to be a large group, maybe 10 people at the most. I recognized most of the names, but only truly remembered a few of the people that were going to attend.
I pulled into the parking lot and parked the car. I sat there and took a deep breath. GET OVER YOURSELF! I admonished. “My God, you’re 57 years old!” Ah, but high school, oh high school. Insecure, lonely, horny, pimply….as my mother so aptly put it, “you weren’t very happy in high school, were you”.
I walked into the restaurant and saw no one that looked remotely like a Parkway Reunion group, so I walked out onto the patio. As I looked around a smiling man stood up and said, “Are you looking for the Parkway group? So am I. I’m Tom Stobie”.
We started talking and laughing. No we didn’t remember each other at all. He was a wrestler, I was in choir. Our paths in our class of 600 probably never crossed. But we put those long ago kids to rest and the adults started talking.
He was a minister and had lived in New Zealand. We talked about Asia. Eventually we found the rest of the people in the group. I said hello to the few I remembered, and was only embarrassed once by someone that remembered me that I really couldn’t place (I’ll never tell!). There were several people there that took Russian with me and we tried to see how much we remembered – most of them remembered much more than I did, but then languages never were my forte.
I ended up talking to Meredith quite a lot. Her husband designs sound systems and they’ve traveled all over the world. Once again I remember her name, but not her, but what did it matter? We were all grownups that had grown up. St. Louis and Parkway Central were a common ground and a jumping off point for new friends.
Oh if I only could go back and talk to that teenager, tell her to smile at other people as she walks down the hall. Tell her not to worry so much about what other people are thinking, because they are all thinking the same things as her. They are all worried about how they appear to the world and what their place in it might be, and it’s all going to work out. But of course, being a teenager she wouldn’t have listened to me anyway.
I tried to get a picture of our happy reunion group, but realized that my camera was on movie mode when I handed it to someone to take a picture. So, I serendipitously ended up with a short video of us all laughing, which somehow is even better. For some reason the video won't upload but here is an image from the video:
Now I’m actually looking forward to this September. I think that kid might finally be over herself. So what if it took her 40 years!