Are you still friends with your high school friends?

It’s a topic that comes up a lot in one of my GenX nostalgia groups and that has been on my mind as I’ve been going to a bunch of graduation parties lately. Are you still friends with your high school friends? Answers always vary, of course. It’s also a topic I have randomly thought about and reflected on in the last decade or so.

I went to Montessori through the sixth grade. There were only eight of us in my graduating class. Four of us were in the same public school district, but only two of us went to the one junior high and the other two went to the other one. I had expected my classmate and I would continue to stay close once we hit public school, but she pretty quickly dumped me and moved on. [But I am Facebook friends with her mom. Go figure.]            

Because my sister and I were the weird kids who attended private school and lived at the furniture store at the end of the neighborhood street, we didn’t know the other kids in the neighborhood. I remember riding our bikes around the H, as I called it, and being taunted by the kids.

So when I started public school, I felt like I was starting from scratch. It took a while to find some friends, because the social norms in this huge school where there were more kids in my grade than had been in my entire school were vastly different.

I was still the weird kid throughout those years, but managed to find a group that ebbed and flowed over the next six years. I also ended up with other groups of friends because I still attended youth group and got to know kids at other school as well as their friends. And I just managed to get along with everyone. I had my group, but also transcended the cliques.

I still remember finishing my lunch early one day during my senior year. I announced that I was going to go sit on the senior benches, since they were open. My friends thought I was crazy because that is where the popular kids sat. I shrugged my shoulders and went over anyway. Yeah, some of the more popular kids came over, but we all ended up just chatting. No biggie.

While I got along with a vast majority of my classmates, I was also never really a part of their groups. I didn’t get invited to their parties. I didn’t pose with them en masse for pics at dances. I didn’t get invited to all of the graduation parties. But we all signed each other’s yearbooks and wished each other well.

In college, I very quickly lost touch with the friends I’d spent time with in high school. I guess we just had different interests. I think mine were still the same, just easier to find, specifically music and musicians.

And then social media happened. I started adding people via MySpace. Our 10-year reunion was organized mainly on MySpace, right at the time we were also migrating to Facebook.

That reunion was odd. I remember trying to hang out with that group I had been so tight with in high school and it was just awkward. I spent a lot of time chatting with random other people and was told repeatedly that I hadn’t changed (in a good way). I also somehow got tasked with setting up the Facebook group for our class. And then despite not being an officer or anything like that, I ended up helping out with a lot of the 20th and 25th reunions. I didn’t make it to #20, though, and #25 was ruined by COVID. But had you asked me in high school if I ever thought I would be a part of that process, I would have laughed.

Now, let’s go back to those last few years. 2018 saw me hospitalized for a week right before my mother died, plus numerous other deaths and surgery. It was Facebook friends from high school who supported me the most, yet not from that original group. One drove two hours to pick me up at the state line to drive me the three hours to my mom at hospice and then drove the two hours back home from there. Others made sure we had food while we were at hospice and beyond. Still another, whom I had barely known back in the day, gifted us the memorial reception for my mother at the Panera he managed.

Throughout my COVID crap, it has been those random Facebook friends from high school who have been the most supportive. It is so strange to me in a lot of ways, but I am very grateful.

I even people I barely spoke to in high school who have sought me out to be Facebook friends. I am honestly closer to a lot of those people now than I ever was back then, and very rarely hear from those I was close to.

So that makes me think of those people who despised high school and don’t want to revisit it. If it was truly toxic, then no, stay away. But I also wonder how many were actually liked and appreciated more than they realized, and because teenagers are stupid, they never got to see those positives? I know I am still floored by some memories that people have shared. At the same time, I have shared some of my random memories with others and they are surprised (and hopefully pleased) by those random things I remember.

I do believe that different people are brought into our lives for different reasons and seasons. I seem to have an ever-evolving rotation. I has just been interesting to reflect on lately.

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