There's something incredibly special about walking into a room of people who have known you for 30+ years. I am one of those rare people who went from kindergarten all the way through high school with the same group of kids. And, Saturday night was my 20th high school reunion.
This was a room full of people who came into the work force at the peak of the 90's boom. People who began careers, started families, bought houses. People who lost careers, started over, went back to school, moved into smaller places. Some who are just starting out. Some who have fallen down and are regaining their strength to try again.
It's interesting to look around the room. And see people's eyes. And to still recognize their voice before I turn around to greet them. And to know their humor, their wit. To see that in so many ways, we are all the same and in many ways so drastically different.
These people matter to me. Their stories are woven into my life.
I think of one of my childhood friends - the only child of divorce that I knew at the time. I've thought of her and her mom hundreds of times over the past few years as I started to navigate life as a single mom. Little did I know when I was 6, that she and her mom would give me hope when I needed a lift 30 years down the road.
I think of another friend who went to the 'right' college, and followed the rules and lost everything he had ever worked for. But, found his wife and kids and what matters most in life.
I think of another friend, who has been through re-hab and seriously could not be a more inspiring and beautiful human being - inside and out. I don't know what took her there - or why - but I know for sure that she's exactly where she's supposed to be now. She inspires me.
I think of another friend, who is raising four kids and moving her family. Again. To a new place and starting over. I think of her courage and her tenacity. I wish I could go to her new town and tell people about her. Tell them stories about how she was always the hardest working person I knew. The most committed and driven person. They should know that they are lucky to have her.
I think of another friend who has a two month old. And I just want to give her a hug. And I'm so glad that we're still young enough to have new babies.
I think of another friend who has a new grandbaby - and I am in awe that we're actually this old.
I think of another friend who said, "I didn't know if I should come, or if anyone would remember me," and who showed up anyway and had a constant group of people around her all night.
I think of my friends who put in hundreds of hours of work to make this night happen for us. And all I can say is: Thank you. You made a difference in my life - and I'm so grateful.
I think of the groups of friends who have stayed in touch. And came in two's and three's and sat together and told stories and laughed the way long-time friends do.
I think of another friend, she was always so pretty. But now she's beautiful. In a way that only time and happiness forged together can create.
I think of my friend. The one who's been there by my side through all of it. Marriage, death, kids, divorce. And how much I love her. Always have. Always will.
I can't think of a more incredible group of people.
Atascadero Class of 91... I love you.