It's hard to believe that it's been a whole decade since I walked across that platform in the hot June sun and graduated with 300 of my fellow classmates from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. 12 years of "blood, sweat and tears" was over. My friends and I parted ways to go off to different colleges and start new lives, meet new people, enjoy new experiences. We had our whole lives ahead of us. I wondered if in ten years we'd be as close as we were then, which career I would have, who I'd be married to, where I'd be living. The future was one giant question mark.
The past ten years have flown by. I've lost touch with most of those friends; started a career; got married; moved four times; made new friends, lost them, made other ones. As I reflect on where I am now, I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out. It's not the life I would have or could have plotted out back when I graduated from high school. My hopes and dreams, my values and priorities were different in 1997 as opposed to right now. I could not have imagined that I'd be married to a man whose career goal was full time ministry, or that the relationship I had with my family would change so dramatically over time, or that life as an adult could be downright scary and confusing at times. As a starry eyed, naive 17 year old, I didn't think things would change that much from the small world I knew and grew up in.
A few weeks ago as I was looking for my masters diploma, which I needed for work, I came across a loose leaf paper journal filled with memories I had jotted down while still in high school. I thought I had thrown it away years ago. It mostly catalogued my senior year, the fun and crazy times I had with my best friends. The memories came flooding back. As I sat there reading the handwritten pages about younger, carefree days it was like ten years had never happened. I found myself laughing out loud at some entries and wanting to cry at others. I remembered warmly the friendships that I had and how we felt invincible at the time. These memories are encapsulated for all time in a tattered edge sheaf of paper held together with a rusted paper clip. Those were, in many ways, the time of my life.
As my ten year high school reunion approaches, I think back on all my experiences, good bad and ugly as a student: the boyfriends, the trends, notepassing, school trips, teachers, heartbreaks, all the angst that comes with being a teenager. While it's not my intention to live in the past, it can be fun to take a journey back to the nineties and relive a little of that high school nostalgia every now and then.
"All the memories of looking out the back door,
I have the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor.
It's time to say it, hard to say it: goodbye.
All the memories of walking out my front door,
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for.
It's time to say it, so hard to say it: goodbye.