It’s almost time for reunion parties. There is excitement and fear for anyone whose time it is to reunite with former classmates. My 20-year High School Reunion is the best reunion story out there.
I attended my 20 Year High School Reunion. I had mixed feelings. First off, it was extremely over-priced. One of my classmates scored the “big time,” took out a membership at the ritzy country club and took advantage of the rest of us!
Secondly, I tried to squeeze in as much as I could during those years. I loved high school.
Well, except for how this particular story started.
It was Sadie Hawkins. The dance where the girl asks the guy… buys the cute matching shirt/sweater and plays divine goddess host for the evening. My first pick didn’t get back to me… so, I asked the Student Body President.
I spent days making this enormous poster of butcher paper, magic marker, paint and, of course, writing some cheesy poem, which, now, escapes my memory. My mom, whom I hadn’t seen in two years, flew out to visit, and it was a moment of bonding. My mom and I drove to his house and she delivered the giant, rolled “invitation”. Mr. SB Pres. was not at home, so we left it with his brother.
It took a couple of days, but he said, “Yes.” I don’t recall the details of that moment either.
I saved my weekend Nanny money and bought these crimson and gray sweaters. They were my school’s colors and I thought they were perfect!
· Quirky invitation… check
· Answer… affirmative
· Matching tacky shirts: check
I made the plans for dinner and the hair appointment to look “foxy.”
I bought the tickets and had money set aside for pictures. It was going to be amazing. I was so giddy.
The Wednesday before the dance, Mr. Pres. said he would rather go with this “other” girl who had recently asked him and “would that be okay?”
I know what you’re thinking.
I was, however, polite and concerned about other’s feelings and so I smiled and said, “Sure. I think that would be great! I hope you have a good time.” I suppose I sincerely meant it. I mean, why would I want to go with someone who didn’t want to be there with me?
He gave me back the sweater; I canceled my dinner plans and hair appointment.
He went to the dance.
I stayed home.
Life went on.
Fast forward. Twenty years later I’m going to the reunion. There is no other reason aside from the fact I have decided I’m going to tell Mr. Pres. just what a schmuck he was. His rejection haunted me.
I drilled into my boys’ head that if they say, “Yes” to a girl for a dance, they take her.
There is no discussion.
No second thought.
They grew up hearing me tell them this story over and over.
At the reunion, I sit through the uneventful night looking for him, but cannot seem to find him. I tell my husband, “Maybe he didn’t come?”
There is a drawing for prizes and they call his name… wait… ah, yes! There he is!
I excuse myself and go up to the front of the reunion and wait as someone else has acquired his attention.
I wait and wait, and finally, I decide I look, perhaps, desperate standing there alone and so I go and sit back down.
A little while later, I see he has returned to his table and so I excuse myself again.
I rehearse what I’m going to say on my walk to his table. With a big grin I say, “Mr. President (okay, I used his real name, but you get the picture), how the heck are you?”
He turned and said, “Hello, Julee”
“I’m surprised you remember my name.” There may have been a tad bit of bitterness in my voice.
“I remember you. I have thought about you through the years and what I did to you. It is the one thing I regret. It’s not that I thought about it every minute, every day, every week or every month, but I thought about it. I am very sorry for what I did.”
Tears started to swell and I choked up.
He continued, “I told my family; my children. I am sorry.”
I replied, “I told my children too. They know that even if the fat, ugly girl asks them first and they say, “Yes”, they are taking her.”
He introduced me to his wife. She said, “Oh, memories! Good or bad?”
He answered, “This is Julee.”
“Oh, bad memories!” she winced, “He told me the story and he is so sorry. Tell her you’re sorry.”
“I already did. I AM sorry.”
I asked his wife, “Would you mind taking that Sadie Hawkins picture for me now?”
She smiled and he stepped closer, put his arm around me and we took our picture.
Upon leaving him I said, “Mr. President, I knew you as a boy; I will remember you as a man.”
I went back to my table and my husband asked, “Well? What happened?” I told him, what I have just told you.
My husband said to me, “You’re lying.”
“I’m not,” I answered as my eyes filled with tears and, slowly, one by one, they fell to my cheek.
I was ready to go home. I came and that apology put me at peace.
When I got home, the first question my boys asked was, “Did you see Mr. President?”
“Yes” and told them this story.
My 18-year-old replied, “I’m so glad I always took the girl; that would be a terrible thing to have to carry around for 20 years!”
Indeed, it would.
It should be noted a week later, I sent Mr. President an email and told him “Thank You” that his apology meant a lot.
You should be very proud of yourself for having the willpower and fortitude to do the things that you were able to do at such a young age.
I am very sorry for what I did to you in high school. That is the only thing that I did that has bothered me through the years.
Thank You for the opportunity to say that I am sorry at the reunion. It was a great load off of my shoulders; I hope that you can truly forgive me.
I’m happy to know that you are doing well and have such a big family. I’m sure that you have a great husband and kids and a wonderful life.
You mentioned at the reunion you were surprised that I remembered you after all these years; I just want to let you know that I will never forget you. You are a wonderful person.
It was very nice to see you at the reunion.
I keep that letter, almost ten years later, folded in my purse. I take it out on occasion to remind me that I deserve great things. That even after 20 years, I am someone remembered and I have value.
This story was featured in the March 25, 2011 issue of All You Magazine on page 72.
A Story of Forgiveness