My 30th high school reunion is coming up. Fast. We’ll be celebrating the weekend of October 10-12, which is only a month away.
But that’s not what I mean, not really. What I mean is that it’s been THIRTY years since I graduated high school. THIRTY years since I was 17 and knew everything. THIRTY years since Footloose and Purple Rain were released to the world. And those thirty years have passed FAST.
I graduated in 1984, surely the best year, I mean, George Orwell wrote a book with that title. It was an Olympic year (back when the Olympics were every four years and covered all events). It was also an election year. We were equally special, aligning with events that only occurred every four years.
1984 brought us Night Court, “Where’s the beef?” and Madonna singing “Holiday” on American Bandstand. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, Ronald Reagan was the Leader of the Free World and the NFL passed its infamous anti-celebrating rule. The White Sox beat the Brewers in a 25 inning 8 hour baseball game. Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America, resigned due to a nude photo scandal. Bruce Springsteen released “Born in the USA.”
Wow, it seems like yesterday. Well, maybe not yesterday, but surely not thirty years ago.
I attended Rockford West High School. I’m a Warrior, a mighty, mighty Warrior. Still.
I have great memories from high school. And shitty ones, too, but what 13 to 17 year old doesn’t do, think, and say stupid things? The high school years can be a challenge– high school is a minefield, but it’s a life learning experience. Those formative years teach you about the world in a relatively safe microcosm. And luckily for me, it’s the good times that stick with me after THREE decades.
My high school is a middle school now. It’s not the same, I know, but at least it’s still open. I can drive down Rockton Avenue and see the sign out front that my Student Council committee was responsible for changing. I can remember vividly the ice cream social on the lawn where we signed year books and celebrated the end of the school year. Around back is where I did cartwheels in the quad and once, just once, drank beer behind the Driver’s Ed simulation trailer.
I believe I am who I am today, THIRTY years later, because of the time I spent at West. Because of the teachers I had, the friends I hung out with—and still do—and the experiences from which I learned. I played on the tennis team in high school and was a member of AFS. I was a Bruton groupie, running errands for the Mr. and Mrs. Art Teachers. I used to paint signs for the pep rallies and sports teams, “Lady Warriors need Athletic Supporters, too!” I worked on the homecoming floats folding tissue paper pomps. I had baby powder fights in the locker room saturating those awful red uniforms in white. I ate scooped mashed potatoes with ladled butter and drank milk out of cartons.
Those were the years I cruised North Towne with my friends, ate at Godfather’s Pizza, dropped quarters at the arcade and tips into the bottom of the soda glass at The Last Straw. I rode the city bus to the Machesney Park Mall to giggle and blush in Spencers, test out the sample make up in Bergner’s and spin the wheel at the ice cream shop. I walked to the library downtown, took classes at the Y, and attended Trinity Lutheran Church youth group services.
Funny how it all comes back to you… THIRTY years later, lol. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I’ll have to pause to remember, but ask me what I wore to Marc Gulatto’s 1983 Halloween party and I can tell you.
It’s time to reunite. 1984 to 2014, the latter a crazy futuristic made-up year. That year is now. Wow. To quote Ah-nold in 1984’s Terminator, “I’ll be baack.” And I hope you will, too.
Attention Class of ’84 Warriors!
Our reunion begins Friday, October 10, at 8 pm at Kryptonite. We’ll be bowling Saturday, October 11 at 1 pm at Don Carter Lanes, then Saturday night we’ll be meeting at Tavern on Clark at 7 pm. Sunday is our Family Picnic at noon at Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve. We’ll be posting pricing on the Reunion Facebook page.