Twenty years ago, I graduated high school.
I realize I’m dating myself a bit with that revelation, but let’s face it – you all know I’m not 29 anymore. I’m not fooling anyone.
Saturday night, I walked into the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield, Missouri, and I saw a sea full of familiar faces. Half of those faces I couldn’t connect with a name, but thanks to Facebook not every conversation was awkward.
(Try introducing yourself to someone who says “Yeah, I know who you are. We ate lunch together every day for a year.” That’s fun.)
The entire evening was a pleasant as old friends caught up, and new connections were formed. As the music of our youth blared over the loud speakers, we all talked like grown ups, because all of us are grown ups, and that puts us on a much more level playing field.
It’s really too bad we can’t be 38 when we graduate high school, because I have decided I like the 38 year old version of myself so much better. In fact, I liked the 38 year old version of all of us better.
I had lengthy conversations with several people who don’t share a single memory with me from those angsty high school days. In a class of several hundred, there’s bound to be several with whom you never connect. I had vague memories of these people, but that was it.
I thoroughly enjoyed them as adults, though.
Perspective and life are the great equalizers. The social hierarchy of life is much less pronounced when you’re pushing 40. Most of us are simply trying to survive parenthood and job changes, and we’re all completely baffled by the election.
There’s no time to worry about the nonsense of our youth. How refreshing and so completely freeing. I suppose a crystal ball into the future would have been helpful 20 years ago, but probably not. One only gets to this place of freedom by walking through life.
Everything about this weekend has been a breath of fresh air. Touching home base makes a soul feel settled. From catching up with old friends to soaking in the crisp, fall air, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a weekend away in St. Louis with my daughter.
I even got to do my first TV interview this weekend, and how apropos that I did it in the place I call home.
My creative journey began here in the shadow of the arch. I wrote terrible poetry as a conflicted teenager who desperately wanted to fit in, but didn’t yet understand that fitting in is a nebulous concept.
I had my first taste of the Russian and Ukrainian cultures when traveling with groups outside of St. Louis.
Yesterday, I spoke to the youth at our former churchabout creativity and Christianity, and how the two blend together so nicely. It was a sweet moment to share with these grown up kids who were all so little when I moved away.
After the morning ended, I thought back on the whirlwind 48 hours I’d just experienced, and I realized that everything that is my today stems from my yesterday. And all of it connected this weekend.
I know a lot of people who desperately want to escape their pasts, and I get it. Sometimes the pain of the past is too hard to revisit.
But for many of us, revisiting the past is actually a good thing. There’s a sweet contentment that comes when we turn around and look fondly at that from which we came – the moments that shaped us, for better or worse.
We touch them and say hello, and then turn back to the present and the unknown future feeling somehow stabilized.
It’s been a wonderful weekend here in my home. But now it’s time to go home.
I’m ready, once again, for tomorrow.
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