What is it about school reunions?

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RECENTLY, in the swing of my work, I interviewed the new principal of my old school and during the ensuing photoshoot met a few of the students.

When they learned I was an “old girl”, one of the first questions they sweetly asked was: “Are you still friends with anyone from school?”

They were thrilled to hear my response that, yes, I am still lifelong friends with a small group of girls I met at the school. I told them that we keep in touch regularly through a WhatsApp chat group as we are all living in different parts of the world, but we get together for reunions whenever possible and I am so lucky to have these special friends in my life.

I am doubly lucky having my oldest school friend, who has been my “bestie” for almost 30 years now living just around the corner to me with her two kids.

This year is the 20th anniversary for the “class of 99” and there has been chat among my group as to whether any of us would go if there was a reunion organised.

It got me thinking about what happened at our 10th-year reunion.

First of all, I remember we all got very dressed up. Like we were all bridesmaids at a wedding kind of dressed up. Some of us got our hair styled. And that’s great, it feels good to dress up and feel and look your best, but in this case it felt like we were trying very hard and nerves were showing.

Why did we feel so nervous? We were 28 years old, we’d all finished our studies, travelled and started our careers. Some of us even had kids! There was just something about “going back” that brought out that lack of confidence and fear of being different that some (maybe all) teenagers experience.

I arrived with my bestie, her dad gave us a lift to the restaurant and we both sat in the back of the car, just as we would have as teenagers.

It felt like we were going back in time.

The pre-dinner drinks were lovely once a champagne got our nerves under wraps and it was fun to mingle with girls I hadn’t seen for years. Everyone looked exactly the same, except with better hair and eyebrows.

The regression kicked back in when we were asked to take our seats. It was a musical-chairs moment as we all lurched towards our friends to secure a seat together. I felt that rush of anxiety that I used to feel when we had to pick teams at sport, that I don’t want to be the last one standing alone without a team.

I grabbed my bestie and as we sat down, we realised we were all sitting in the exact cliques that we had at high school. Nothing had changed!

We all kicked on afterwards, as you do, at a nearby bar and my friends and I bumped into an old bully from school. A couple of snide words from her was all it took to make me realise there were some people we don’t ever want to be reunited with, despite a decade passing.

But the night was also another reminder that there are some very special people in my life who I would pick, always pick, to be on my team.

So will I attend the 20th reunion? I’ll have to check with my bestie first.


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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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