Last week I spent four days in the Bay Area at my high school reunion. What a trip!! My school was a small girls school with 45 graduating in our class. Six have passed away. Twenty-two of us showed up. There was one formal event but many opportunities to be with our close friends over the weekend. It was exhausting!!
Off the plane, a friend met me. We drove to her gorgeous home in Berkeley. Beautiful day. There were seven of us at lunch. Didn’t take long to flashback to what seemed like just yesterday. So many memories! The words most heard were “Do you remember…? Recalling people, places and events was the deal. Revisiting the past and reconnecting with old friends… we never let up!
Those high school years were powerful times. As young girls, we spent all our time together. (No boys to distract us.) We competed with each other, got into trouble, and laughed our way through the boredom. We got drunk for the first time together, slept over at each others’ houses, drove in each others’ family cars… studied hard and played hard. Then we graduated and dispersed.
What I remember the most was spending the night at my friends’ houses. I got the dubious prize for having slept overnight at the most houses during those years. Apparently I was not happy at home.
I must have been a budding family therapist way back then because I can remember everything about my friends’ families… to this day. I can describe their houses, the people living there and how they acted as a family. I can tell you who the nice mothers were and who you wanted to stay away from… who drank too much… what the fathers were like… who asked too many questions – who you just didn’t feel good/safe around.
Some vivid memories with valuable lessons were:
- Sally’s family was my favorite. Good people – warm, friendly, always made me feel comfortable. Mealtimes at her house were just like the family TV shows we watched back then.
- Marsha’s mother drove me crazy. She always wanted to be our pal. She giggled with us and asked way too many questions. None of her business! Felt yucky… aka inappropriate boundaries
- Betsy’s mother had a serious drinking problem. That was embarrassing. Poor Betsy. We felt sorry for her.
- Fran’s mother was mean to her. She was also a terrible driver. You didn’t want to be in her car.
- I really liked Judy’s father because he helped me tell my parents that I wrecked the car. He also told my parents that he found a cheap door to replace the wrecked one. He was great!
- There was only one stepfamily in the group. Nice people who were doing just fine… so it seemed from the outside. (What did we know back then?)
As I said… this was a very long time ago. We were sheltered, young and naïve.
It’s a different culture today. Regardless of culture, the truth is that today’s stories form tomorrow’s memories.
What will your kids and their friends say about you and your family at their class reunions? What stories will they tell? Think about both the good… and the not so good. You can then talk about it as a stepcouple, if it’s appropriate.
(Names and details in this story have been changed to protect privacy.)
Licensed Professional Counselor