I know I've mentioned that I'm an Air Force Brat and that I attended High School in England. For the record, I have no idea why brat and high school are capitalized. Moving on....
Children of parents in the Armed Services have a unique bond. Perhaps its because we know our time together is limited until our parent receives their next assignment. Perhaps its because we all understand what the life if like. I'm not sure exactly why but I do know that I can recall names, faces, memories of the friends I made at every base we were stationed at. I may not have kept in touch but each of those friends left their imprint on my life. However, being stationed overseas changed that bond. It made the bond you had with others more concrete. We had the added bond of knowing we were strangers in a foreign country. This caused us to cling to each other even more so.
When we moved to England in 1984, the base my dad was stationed at was in the process of building a new school. It was a lovely $20 million dollar project that would house all of us Air Force kids grades K-12. In the meantime, grades K-3 attended one school that was an old firestation and grades 4-9 attended school in these building that we guess were old offices. After 9th grade, we were bussed off to attend school on another base just outside of London.
At this school, there were day students (student's who's parents were stationed at that base), 5 day dormies (me - kids who's parents were stationed close enough to make it financially feasible to send us home on weekends), and 7 day dormies (kids who were too far away to spend weekends at home). This type of existence created a huge bond between all of us. I attended this school for 10th grade only before our new school opened. In spite of the fact that I was only there for one year, if a name is mentioned to me, it usually will conjur up a face to go with it. We were tight.
Both of these schools are now closed. Both bases have fallen victim to the Ballistic Missles Treaty between the US and Russia in the early 90's. Our brand new school graduated only three classes - class of 1989, class of 1990 (that was me) and class of 1991. These were small classes, there were only 45 kids in my graduating class. Perhaps a total of 50 in the class of 1989 and less than 40 for the class of 1991.
I had been living over there since 7th grade. I was a long timer, with my parents signing on for an extra tour of duty so that I could complete high school in one location. Even though our school was small, I felt that I was pretty well known by most people simply by the fact that I had been there forever.
In about the last 4 years, there have been some attempts to locate all the alumni. Most of us scattered all over the globe at graduation, breaking the promises that were penned in numerous yearbooks about keeping in touch. It was different for us, we didn't all live in the same town - we weren't likely to run into each other. We all began to live our lives and while the memories we had of those years faded, they were never completely erased.
With the advent of MySpace and Facebook, the reconnection effort has exploded. We are all finding each other again after 20 odd years. The odd thing is, the faces I hold in my memories, the faces that are conjured up to match a name, are the faces I saw last in the early 90's. I've forgotten that all of us have aged - most with families of our own and some of us with children the same ages we all were when meeting. Its such a shock to the system to see these adults. I guess in some corner of my mind, I was still expecting the pegged jeans, the Iron Maiden t-shirts, the flannel overshirts, the big hair, the blue eyeshadow, and the many other compenents that made up the fashion disasters of the 80's and early 90's.
I've discovered that a few people actually live in cornland with me. One of them was a girl I wasn't particularly close to in high school who has continually offered to meet up for lunches, dinners, etc. I keep blowing her off. Why? I don't really know. I guess some of the other people I've come in contact with over the years seem to be stuck in high school. They seem to want to live in the past. I know I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago. I guess the other part is being afraid. My life after high school didn't quite turn out as I expected and I know I was perceived as one of those who was going to "go places". I'm sure as hell not the skinny kid I was 20 years ago. Fear of being a disappointment - fear of being judged - fear of finding out those you were closest too 20 years ago are no longer people you'd chose to associate with. That's what's holding me back.
So, next June is the 20th reunion of the class of 1989 being celebrated with a reunion in Kansas City. I've been toying with it in my mind trying to decide if I want to go. Do I have the balls to face all these people and say, "This is me now - no college degree, a shitload of kids, a mouth like a sailor, and an ass the size of Australia". If I don't go, will I be missing a great opportunity to relive some crazy and outlandish moments with those I shared them with (bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 and Nightrain were probably involved with most of those memories)? Will I be missing the opportunity to discover people I wasn't close to? Will I be missing the opportunity to discover that most of us attending have the same extra pounds? Will these people "get me"?
Is it really fear holding me back or am I as judgmental as I'm afraid these people will be of me. All of the people sharing cornland with me aren't people I hung with. There might have even been a couple I really didn't like. Am I holding back because I didn't like someone 20 years ago? What if they've changed just as I've changed? Am I missing the opportunity make some new lifelong friends - friends who happen to share an experience with me?
I guess the important question to ask is: Will there be booze there?