I wanted to accomplish some writing today, so I decided to come to the local Starbuck’s. In the back of my mind, I knew that coming here during the holidays, I’d run into some old classmates – and I honestly looked forward to that.
After high school, my classmates and I spread across the country. I didn’t go far – just about 150 miles south. I was able to come home for holidays, breaks and the occasional weekend.
The funny thing about coming home during the holidays, is that everyone comes home for the holidays. The town turns into one huge high school reunion – for better or for worse. Hanging out at the local bar, or coffee shop, almost guarantees sightings of old friends, acquaintances and classmates. Even, to the horror of many, old crushes and flings. (I guess wandering around town in sweats, without makeup, is out of the question for the week…)
Personally, I really enjoy these reunions. Ever the social butterfly and people person, I love chit chatting with old friends. Hearing about everyone’s lives – where they ended up, what they’re doing. I was lucky enough to attend a great high school – one of the best in the state, in many respects. Lots of extremely smart people graduated with me and went on to accomplish amazing things. Chatting with them is inspiring, if occasionally intimidating.
I think this has really strengthened my roots to Chicagoland. Friends and colleagues talk about moving across the country – or actually move across the country – and that idea terrifies me. My friends and family are in my hometown. When I go to the local bar, I almost always run into someone that I’ve known for many years. When I go to the library, I can bet that the librarian on duty will be the mother of an elementary school classmate. When I load up my car with gas, I take comfort in knowing that the cashier will be the same man who helped my friend and I fill up my tank for the first time. I feed off of that comfort level and familiarity.
I am a traveler at heart. Of course I am. I have incredibly strong wanderlust. I want to meet everyone, see everything and learn everything. Try every food, see every sunset and hike every mountain.
But, I’m also a homebody. I love my town and the people with whom I’ve grown up.
So, maybe high school reunions have a less-than-stellar reputation. But, I think they’re pretty great.