Forty years is the charm
My son called me on Saturday to share an epiphany.
"MOM," he yelled. "It feels like I was nine years old 15 minutes ago. Now I'm driving my own car to take the SAT!"
I was in Miami Beach at the time, preparing to celebrate the 40-year reunion of my high school class. He of the good hair and many friends had missed the irony. Funny enough, so had I.
The miracle before us was not the mere passage of time.
When I moved to Denver two years ago, I looked up a high school friend I hadn't seen in decades. Now a CEO with three kids and a successful wife, he still reached for his 1977 yearbook. Then he scanned and emailed black-and-white photos of me—as the cheerleading captain and homecoming queen—to a few of my new colleagues. He had known them since their kids and his were in preschool together.
He meant well but I wanted to die.
Who would take that girl seriously? But worse, who doesn’t love it when positional authority in high school backfires? When that guy with the good hair is bald by the tenth reunion. When the high school sweethearts divorce. When the emperor(ess) has no clothes.
The high school pecking order is painfully public. It can take a long time to flatten that curve.
At our tenth reunion, we were still trapped in our yearbook personas.
At our twentieth, we blindly grasped for our future selves.
Our thirtieth anniversary came and went and we failed to get together.
But 40 years seems to be the charm.
A self-identified Former Misfit said it best: “I felt the joy of connecting with classmates who have gained the wisdom, life experience and appreciation of what is truly important in life. The seemingly unbreakable cliques from 40 years ago were shattered and replaced with mutual respect and willingness to reach out to others.”
It was true.
In the ladies’ room, former Goth Girl shared her lipstick with former Plain Jane—and it looked good on her. Former Hippie Chick showed me her cleanly shaven pits. Former Wallflowers danced like everyone was watching. Our Rock Ensemble was back on stage and they were playing our songs.
And I—Former Cheerleader and Homecoming Queen—was able to relax. Maybe my charm wasn't just positional. Maybe it was also relational. And maybe that's what my Denver friend was trying to say.
Back at home, I know my son spends too much time coiffing that good hair. “Enjoy it while you can,” I tell him.
Male-pattern baldness runs in our family. He will need a backup plan.