“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different…”
~ C.S. Lewis
In the days before I started kindergarten (1966), I remember my mother laying two dresses across the top of her bed. They were mine. That moment in time stays with me for many reasons. For starters, I was the second daughter so having clothes that were brand new, and not something my older sister had outgrown, was an anomaly. I remember looking at the olive-green jumper and the red plaid frock in absolute awe. Which one would I wear on my first day of school? I could hardly wait for that day to arrive! But eyeing those dresses, flamboyantly displayed, also caused dread to squeeze my chest. When I put on the clothes, I would be stepping outside the comfort of my home, and into the mystery of what everyone was talking about. School. There would be strangers at school; kids I didn’t know and a teacher who would ask questions, and expect answers, about things I didn’t even understand yet. But I had my supplies; a box of 12 jumbo crayons, a scissors, a tube of Elmer’s Glue, my red and blue fold-up nap mat and now, my new attire. I was ready
… wear your personality proudly, like a new set of clothes. And if you’re lucky, one day you will greet your classmates back in your home town, five decades from today.
This fall, I am returning to my home town for a reunion that will include some of the same people I met on my first day of school. It’s been 53 years since I started kindergarten and looking back, I realize that the anticipation and the anxiety I felt more than half a century ago are starting to wriggle their way back into my chest with a familiar squeeze.
I remember being at a homecoming football game when I was in junior high and watching as a parade of old people clamored into the stands. Most of them were grinning, and they talked a lot throughout the game, oblivious to the action on the field. I heard someone say they were celebrating their 40th class reunion and I wondered how that could even be possible. I imagined the reason they were laughing and talking was because they knew they were the few, lucky survivors who had somehow outlived their classmates because, to my adolescent brain, anyone who had graduated from high school was old but if they were older than my parents, they must be practically dead. And now I am one. A lucky, living graduate of 1979.
Full disclosure, I have been stalking my classmates online. The whole reunion event (we are meeting at a hometown bar on a Saturday night) was planned online via Facebook. Of my 100 or so classmates, roughly a third have responded to the Facebook post and I have perused each of their available photographs. It might sound impossible, but we all look the same as we did 40 years ago. Current fashions are just reincarnations of the high-waisted, bell-bottomed jeans we wore first, with our peasant tops and cropped jackets. Platform shoes and suede fringe are back in style and if I had hung on to the wardrobe I wore in high school, I would squeeze myself into a pair of wide wale corduroys, safety pin the waistband together, douse myself in Avon’s Sweet Honesty cologne and show up at my class reunion with Farrah Fawcett hair and a mood ring.
OK, we don’t really look exactly the same as we did 40 years ago but I recognize the smiles of my classmates and I am pretty excited to see them again. I hope Bobby shows up. He’s the first boy who kissed me. It was on the hand and we were five years old, but it left a big impression. Or maybe Sheila will be there. Sheila never liked me, and I have no idea why. I might ask her about it. My friend Molly will be there. We were good friends in high school and yet it wasn’t until years later that she revealed her homosexuality. I seriously had no idea.
I want to see Jim again. He is still one of my favorite people even though he dumped me in the 7th grade for my best friend. And Larry better show up. He chased me home from school on a pretty regular basis and climbed on the roof of my house one time when we were 11. I know I won’t see Jane or Elizabeth or Mike or Ronda. Or Steve. I loved Steve. He died too soon. They all did.
So, here’s my unsolicited advice to the kindergarteners headed to school this fall with their backpacks and crayons, and their box of Kleenex and new sneakers. Walk boldly through the doors of your school with the capacity to learn every morsel of knowledge you can grasp. Be kind to everyone, even if they don’t like you. And wear your personality proudly, like a like new set of clothes. And if you’re lucky, one day you will greet your classmates back in your home town, five decades from today.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.