A New England

People ask me when will you grow up to be a man? But all the girls I loved at school are already pushing prams.

So, on Saturday night it was my 20 year high school reunion.

I didn’t go to the 10th year reunion. I was – as blog entries from that far off era will attest – still bitter and twisted out of shape about the less enjoyable aspects of my high school career. But I’ve mellowed out over the last decade and decided to put in an appearance at the Rose and Crown in Guildford at 7:00 in the evening to see what could be seen.

As it turned out, what could be seen was a really good turn out, including in particular my old friend Mark who hasn’t been in Perth for a good five years. Justin also turned up (after I phoned him on the Friday to remind him it was on) and I divided the evening between lurking with them and wandering out to inveigle my way into various conversations and catch ups.

It was a really good night. Our principal Mr Mulchay turned up for a while, as did chemistry teacher Mr Sorge. About half the people looked the same – with some extra weight, a few wrinkles round the eyes and (for the guys) less hair (apart from Daniel who had a beard Ned Kelly would be proud of). The rest looked like complete strangers, but a good half of those were identifiable after comparing nametags (I had no idea who the hell the remaining 25% were, but that’s the way it goes I guess ;))

Particularly gratifying from my viewpoint was catching up with Renee, who’d been one of the main organisers of the event. She was a major part of my high school experience in that she was the most popular and beautiful girl in the year to pay me any attention at all. I was constantly half in love with her and remember being more or less struck dumb in her presence, but she apparently remembers me as being really smart and funny, and us sitting together at the back of the room in English with me continually making her laugh. So that’s nice to get another perspective on šŸ™‚

She’d also read the Tales of the Geek Underclass at some point (I suspect due to Ryan’s pimping it on Facebook), thought they were great and demanded that I write more. As my old PCG associate Lincoln also complemented them I probably shall.

It was also nice when later in the night she wandered over to the table I’d sat down at (my feet were killing me at that point – one of the perils of letting yourself age for twenty years) put her arm around me and repeatedly told everyone “I love this guy!”. I must admit she was a bit worse the wear for drink at that point, but it still had the tiny ghost of 17 year old me doing cartwheels somewhere deep in my soul ;). As one of the major social hubs of the event her presence summoned a wide variety of people to the table and that same tiny ghost was overawed at hanging with all the cool kids for a while – including Sherri and Rebecca which along with Renee made up a two thirds reunion of my year 10 English table.

I caught up with plenty of other people too. One person I was particularly happy to see was the girl (I suppose I should really say woman shouldn’t I?) I had a major crush on all through year 12. In contrast to most of the rest of the attendees she hadn’t changed a bit – I recognised her immediately, and was surprised to find my heart briefly skipping a beat when I did so.

She also had exactly the same laugh, which – again to my surprise – made me come over all… well I can’t think of a suitable adjective, but you know how it feels when you hear someone you’re crazy about laugh. It took me back for a moment to when I was an awkward, nerdy 17 year old still trying to figure out the world – as opposed to an awkward nerdy 37 year old beaten down by it. That alone was worth the admission cost.

(Of course, even if I were to mistake those emotional echoes for anything real, she – like most of my former classmates – is married with a couple of kids. She seems to be doing really well for herself, which is the best you can really wish for anyone.)

The evening went on, with the crowd thinning out, until midnight, when the Rose and Crown staff explained that they’d really prefer to close. Someone who I recognised and had spoken to earlier in the night but whose name has escaped me took it on himself to climb up on a table and draw the night to a conclusion with three cheers for the organisers, and a call for those who wanted to keep partying to reconvene at the Casino. I was so tired by that point that I was becoming positively gregarious, so after some goodbyes (including hugs from Renee and Rayanne who… well, any guy who was there would agree that she certainly changed… I mean, wow!) got a lift home with Justin, with a stop off at Alfred’s kitchen on the way.

It was a great night, but in the end there was a little touch of melancholy. For one evening we were again those bright, brilliant, amazing kids of twenty years ago with our whole lives ahead of us. I think that’s why the night went on so long – if our 37 year old bodies would have held out and the Rose and Crown stayed open I think we would have stayed till the sun came up, just to try and hold on to who we used to be. But reality calls and we had to go back to our lives and on our separate ways. I suppose that’s always the way it is with reunions. You can’t go back, and – in the clear light of day – would you really want to? One night is enough.

That said, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Roll on 2023!