The toughest part of attending my 20th high school reunion was the first five minutes.
Before the opening event - a picnic - I debated whether to arrive on time or fashionably late.
In the back of my mind was a story my dad had told me, about driving two hours to his 40th college reunion and then turning around at the campus gate. He didn't have the nerve to go inside.
I knew exactly how he felt. Two decades had passed since I'd lived in this city and received my diploma - along with 300 others in my class. But I had come to see people, and to contrast my current self with the awkward, self-conscious one of years ago, so I pressed on.
When I arrived, about 20 people were milling around. I scanned faces eagerly, recognizing no one. Had I crashed another reunion by mistake? Nope. This was it. I marched up to the first woman I saw and introduced myself. After another 15 minutes, more people began to arrive, many of whom I knew.
Friends were much as I remembered them, only better - restless ones had mellowed, shy ones were more self-confident. A guy I'd thought of as aloof provided the best conversation. It was as if I were meeting distilled versions of kids I knew in school: Their personalities, disguised temporarily by the teenage need to play a role, now shone brighter.
The reunion was full of laughter, good-natured banter, and a sense of things brought full circle. Here we were, on more equal footing, knowing ourselves better. If anyone had told me in high school that things would come out right, I wouldn't have believed it. Some things you have to learn yourself.
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