The lyrics from Kenny Rogers have been on my mind lately. Tonight is my 20 year high school reunion.
Truth be told, I don’t feel much older than I did back when I walked the halls of McCrory High.
Twenty years ago, we didn’t have cell phones.
Or e-mail addresses.
We passed notes between classes. Handwritten ones, we wrote on notebook paper during class.
Twenty years ago, when someone wanted to ask you out, they called. Some even asked face to face. No texting. No Facebooking. No Tweeting or Instagramming.
We didn’t document what we ate at every meal. We weren’t glued to screens. We talked to each other. A lot.
I wrote my research papers by hand…and then by typewriter. We didn’t have a computer at my house, and certainly not a laptop. I can’t think of anyone who did. We used the computer lab at school sometimes. Mostly to play Oregon Trail.
We had to wait for photos to get developed, unless they were the kind you shook.
It was…a simpler time. My childhood, my teenage years—I didn’t worry about terrorist attacks or public massacres at schools or at malls. The worst thing we experienced collectively was the Challenger disaster when we were in elementary school.
So maybe Kenny was right. Maybe life was easier twenty years ago.
I keep up with many of my former classmates on Facebook, and although twenty years has definitely changed (and aged) us, when I look at them I still see them as they were—boys on the football or basketball team giving their all for the Jags…girls I cheered with for so many years and spent so many hours with making spirit signs or working on new routines for pep rallys…friends I sat beside from kindergarten through senior year who helped me cram for tests because I procrastinated. We’ve grown up. We have spouses and children and in some cases even grandchildren. We’ve gone on to careers in cities and traveled around the world. But in my mind, in my heart…we are still gathered together outside the high school auditorium waiting for the first day of school assembly or making mains on Friday nights after the game.
Those were good times. Times I wouldn’t trade for anything.
And if I could go back in time twenty years to my senior year of high school, and give myself some advice, this is what it would be:
- Enjoy it. For a few years, you really have no responsibility except to learn and to become the person you’re going to be. Enjoy it. Don’t stress over Senior English. Don’t worry about not having a prom date. Stop and smell the roses.
- Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re less because you come from a small town. Small towns are wonderful. Small towns are the heart of America. Big things can happen to people who come from small towns. It’s not a limitation, it’s a blessing. Embrace your roots.
- Talk to your parents. Get to know them as people, because they are people—not just parents. Someday you will be the age they are right now and you will still be figuring out life. Cut them some slack.
- Talk to your grandparents. Really talk to them. Find out everything you can about their lives. And hug them a lot. You won’t regret it.
- Please, please don’t go to the tanning bed ever again. You were just not meant to be tan. Accept it.
- Before you go to college, go to a salon and get a hair style. Seriously girl. Do it. Layers are your friend.
- Don’t throw away all those novels you’ve started. Trust me. Someday you will want to re-read them.
- When you go to college, don’t take accounting no matter what your advisor says. You know you aren’t really going to major in business so don’t hurt your GPA on a whim.
- Trust your instincts. They will rarely steer you wrong, yet you will ignore them a lot. If you can learn this lesson now, you will be better off.
- Pray more often. I know you think you pray a lot now. Do it more. Be thankful, all the time. You are blessed even when you’re having a rotten day. Remember that.