The Class of 87 Turns Forty
(delivered to my senior class, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, July 11, 2009.)
A high school reunion is a time of reckoning. At some point during this midlife rite of passage--say, as you step out on the dance floor for an interpretive heavy metal dance solo, or as you scheme with your classmates to t.p. the houses of local alumni who are no-shows, you have to ask yourself the existential question, what am I doing here?
When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get away from it. Let’s be honest, I didn’t wait. I skipped classes most of my senior year, got my diploma, went to prom, and split. Like everyone here tonight, I grew up, and had a life. As I got older, those three years kept getting smaller. Cynicism about them in my twenties faded to indifference by my thirties. High school was a vanishing point in my rearview mirror, just a place I passed through in a hurry a long time ago.
Turning forty is another time of reckoning. The number is an arbitrary mile marker. Supposedly it represents the halfway point in life, but none of us knows how long--or strange--a trip this is. We have friends who didn’t make it this far. But judging by the horrified expressions of the twentysomethings who watched our takeover of their night club on Broadway last night, it’s fair to say the Class of ’87 is officially middle-aged. Yeah, We Shook You. All Night Long.
My birthday is a few months away, but mile four-oh is in sight. And as I approach it, I begin to sense that the road is curved. My thoughts circle back more often to my youth. I google names I haven’t thought of in years. I find myself listening to Journey songs. Non-ironically. Just a small town girl.
And though I would have said you were out of your mind had you predicted it twenty two years ago, my response to the first suggestion that we hold this reunion was a mighty Hell Yeah. I drove 2,500 miles for seven days in a minivan with three kids and my husband. Not to compare resumes, bank balances or hip circumferences. Not just to see my bffs. And not to keep my house from being tp’d some day. But to honor the place and time I came from, to embrace the people who knew me when, and to connect with the part of myself that is forever seventeen, no matter what the birthday card says.
And to laugh my ass off.
Thank you for being here. Happy fortieth.