As some of you may recall, Sampson and I attended the same high school. This year marked a full decade since his graduation (he’s one class my senior), which can mean only one thing: the people who were student government types back then had an excuse to relive their glory days and plan Prom, the Sequel.
Actually, it was a weekend’s worth of events that culminated in a formal gathering. We opted not to attend the gala event, citing the fact that with as many “mandatory fun” military balls as we’re obliged to attend, there was no way we were going to fork over a cool $180 for the dubious privilege of spending an evening awkwardly grasping for topics of conversation once we’ve exchanged our two-minute spiels about what we do for a living.
We did go to the bar night the day before, and it was good to see people we hadn’t clapped eyes on in ages. I very much enjoyed catching up with an old acquaintance who has also taken up knitting in the years since high school. She was wearing a charming cabled cardigan and a really neat felted fair isle hat that she’d made, and we conversed quite cheerfully about yarn and assorted fiber-crafty things.
There were other folks we enjoyed seeing, but there were also awkward encounters where people I had known in high school told me, “It’s nice to meet you.” Um, hi. We’ve met. Apparently I was invisible for the three years our high school tenure overlapped. (Realistically, I’m pretty sure we can chalk this up to the fact that most people don’t expect high school sweethearts to wind up married to each other, so they assumed that they must never have met the spouse before. It was still a trifle deflating.)
The next day was Alumni Day at the actual school building, open to all alumni rather than just the Class of 2001 and spouses. We caught up with a few more people from other classes, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I truly do have good memories of my high school experience, but being back in the building — this place that was once my own — failed to bear me up on giddy clouds of nostalgia, or whatever it is reunions are supposed to do.
It is probably telling that the best conversation we had on Alumni Day was with an alumnus who graduated one year ahead of Sampson and is now an Army officer. After a weekend’s worth of Sampson trying to explain his job to very smart people who are staggeringly ignorant about the military (“You’re a pilot? So you’re in the Air Force, right?” “Did your wife come with you on your deployment?”), it was refreshing to talk with one of “our people.” He may not have been an expert on the Navy, and we’re certainly not well-versed in Army particulars, but we had the foundation for a meaningful conversation. Sadly, it is not hard to see why we in the military community tend toward insularity.
Long story short, there was a reunion, and it was awkward at times. To end on a positive note, though, I must say that I loved that no one assumed we must have children or that the conversation should revolve around wee ones. In the military bubble, we are definitely the odd ones out for not having a couple of kids already, so it was an interesting change to find ourselves in a group where almost everyone has held off on procreating.