Expectations for my recent class reunion in Urbana, Ohio weren’t high, but driving through the cornfields on the way to my hometown, I was full of nervous excitement, wondering how my two selves might converge: Would people only remember the class partier/clown who was always scrounging rides? Or would they see me as I see myself now — a wife and mom and journalist; someone who has, finally, learned not to care so much about what other people think?
Why do we still allow ourselves to care, anyway, about people we haven’t seen for 25-plus years?
Because they are the same people who believed us when we were four years old and told fantastic tales about our power to magically make the wind stop blowing from the back of our trike.
Because only they know that we climbed into Joy Ware’s car for the ride to high school every morning — sporting wet hair and a homemade bacon-cheese sandwich.
Because we still remember the time Debbie Copeland dropped her majorette’s baton and it hit Mr. Martin, the band director, square on the head. “I don’t even have to look over to know that Copeland did it!” he barked.
Because we know that Debbie and Anne, thick as thieves for lo these many years, still get together for drinks every month. Our version of Romy and Michelle, they weren’t even mortified when a classmate’s wife asked Debbie, 45, if she was pregnant. Together, they laughed it off. Debbie even posed for a snapshot, with Shaun Stewart’s hand on her faux-pregnant belly.
Because when Amy Puglia says her sweet Republican dad, Dick, died of Alzheimer’s this spring, we remember his fine violin-playing like it was yesterday. . . and know that her mother, Rosemary, really meant well when she “helped” him cast his last presidential vote — for Obama.
Because it’s fittingly cute that Dave Curnutte, the class goof-turned-firefighter, married a nurse named Jackie — after meeting her on the job in the hospital emergency room.
Because when Marcia Ware says she’s a professional backup singer, we know she’s not pulling a Romy and Michelle, claiming she invented the Post-It Note. And when she whips out her cellphone to show us PETER FRAMPTON’S NUMBER, we remember where we were the first time we heard “Frampton Comes Alive.” (In the dim apartment of one Nancy Dodson. . . who, in a fit of daring, pierced our preteen ears.)
Because Brian Johnson amazed himself when he delivered his second child — in the bathtub — and we know: If we couldn’t make it to the hospital in time, we’d want his steady hand playing catch for us, too.
Because not only does Shaun remember the time we stole our brother’s car and drove through Dicky Pooh’s Drive-Thru — at 15 — to buy an eight-pack of Little Kings. She also remembers that we wore baseball caps as our disguise.
Because when the jocks gather in their usual circle 25 years after they won the state baseball championship, it doesn’t matter that half of them are sporting beer bellies now.
What matters is that we are, all of us, together again.
We know how far we’ve come and we remember, for better or worse, the people we once were.
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Debbie Copeland, not pregnant at all, but good-naturedly posing with Shaun Stewart, anyway. “I’m freakin’ 45!” she said. Note Amy Puglia’s gorgeous college-age daughter in the background and know that only Rosemary Puglia’s daughter could pull off being best friends with one of her own.