Nirvana grunge, Dr. Dre, New Kids on the Block and booty music. Beverly Hills 90210, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and My So Called Life television marathons. Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. Betsy Johnson prom dresses. Marky Mark and those ubiquitous Calvin Klein ads. These are some of my fondest memories from the '90s.
And after my 20-year high school reunion this past weekend at Ransom Everglades, the '90s nostalgia was in full force (cue the Baywatch soundtrack here).
As Velveeta cheesy/cornball/syrupy as this sounds, I never imagined reconnecting with my high school cronies would be so emotional, sentimental and merry. While it's been two decades since we last sat in the lunch room together (which felt oh-so-big when I was a teen, and felt entirely snug as an adult), it felt like yesterday we were eating PBJs and complaining about topics such as our boyfriends, weekend plans, SAT scores and the latest brutal water polo match.
And here we were donning handwritten nameplates just in case we couldn't recognize one another -- which never happened, by the way. You never forget the face of the guy who took you to your first Beastie Boys concert. As the evening unwound, it was insightful to learn how some of my classmates went on to be successful professors at MIT, surgeons, composers, actresses, financial gurus, therapists, film makers, teachers, artists and such. Some of them are devoted stay-at-home mothers. A handful are happily single. There was tear-inducing news, too. Some friends lost a parent. The topic of divorce was brought up. A few are seeking a career change because they aren't happy with the status quo.
As we chatted over cocktails, it hit me like a ton of encyclopedias (because Google was absent back then) that we all behold a common bond: We shared our most formative years together. The boyfriend/girlfriend drama! Our first time getting drunk! The wonky side effects of puberty! Heartbreak. The stress of applying to college. Meeting the expectations of our parents. Prom! More boyfriend drama! Dealing with teen acne. Those over-the-top bar mitzvahs! Learning to navigate this scary thing called life.
For me, there was something deeply refreshing about the renewed connection with this group of people with whom I spent most of my time with as a teenager. And I'm forever grateful to be their friends.
As for those of you reading this and questioning whether you should attend your future high school reunions (because I sure did get blank stares which read, "You loser" for telling people I was going to attend mine), GO. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the onslaught of fond memories from your halcyon youth.
The takeaway from the celebratory weekend? We're all the same the same kids we were in high school with different sorts of problems, challenges, highs and lows. And that's okay.