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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Rootless

This past weekend, I went down to Sheridan for my class reunion. After 10 years, I'd expected to be a little surprised and depressed by how much my high school had changed. Instead, I was surprised and depressed by how little it had changed! Physically, at least, it was almost indiscernable from when I left. The red carpet in the main hallway was not only the same red carpet as when I graduated, it was the same red carpet that was there when I used to go help my mom in the library -- when I was four! Admittedly, though, for 25 year-old carpet, it's looking pretty good. Probably a testament to its original quality.

We were supposed to go to the football game as a group, but it was pouring down rain, and after 9 years in marching bands, I've had to sit through enough rainy games that I for sure didn't want to if I had a choice. Instead we stayed in the auditorium and watched the Sheridan and Lake Hamilton bands perform. Better show than the game anyway.

Overall, my class has aged pretty well, at least the 60ish out of 222 who showed up. As expected, nearly everyone had kids, but it was surprising to see which girls had settled down and even become dedicated stay-at-home moms. Go figure. Got to go out for drinks beforehand with Jon West, one of my best and oldest friends from band, baseball, Scouts, and probably several other activities I'm forgetting.

Even though I knew all the people at the reunion dinner, many of my best friends from my class didn't make it. What I really think I'd prefer is a Sheridan band reunion not tied to a specific year. I know I've got friends from about 5 or 6 different classes that I was in band with that I would love to see. Maybe I ought to work on that.

One thing that the weekend reminded both Heather Marie and me of is how isolated we feel up here. It's not that we don't have friends, it's just that we don't have history with them. We made some great friends in college, but naturally we don't have the shared experiences of two decades worth of growing up together. It's something I hadn't exactly missed until I experienced it again. Sheridan only has one school for every grade (well, two through 6th grade, counting East End), so unlike school systems where multiple elementaries feed into a few junior highs which feed into a huge high school, most of us went through 13 years of school with the same people. And since it's a small town, those were mostly the same people we played sports with and Scouted with and went to church with and everything. That provides for a lot of shared history and close connections, even with you don't necessarily get along well. We just don't have that where we live now.

Even though we're glad to have escaped the small town atmosphere, for the first time we can really understand why so many people go back, and we can imagine ourselves doing that, too...someday. Not soon. And not necessarily to Sheridan, but maybe around there, closer to family and old friends.

In our class bios, nearly everyone said the thing they missed most from high school was getting to see their friends all the time. I agree. Lots of those people, though, still live within 30 miles of their best friends from school. I wanted to tell them to go see their friends, since they can, because to not do so is a slap in the face to those of us who can't.

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