Most of my memories as a student at Ursuline Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school, still remain crystal clear even 20 years later, especially my senior year.
To this day, I can still remember the smell of the hallways, the feel of my school uniform, rushing to advisement in the mornings because we always had to wait until the very last second just before the bell, the family-like atmosphere that some of us remember and loved and the private school life that not everyone can understand unless you’ve lived it.
It’s hard to believe that here we are 20 years later. Many of our lives have gone in different directions. At the reunion, many of us are able to pick up conversations right where we left off either just five years ago at the last one or maybe even as long as two decades ago.
Have each of us changed? How could we not have after all these years. I’d think it was weird if we hadn’t. It seems so fitting that our senior class motto was “What a long strange trip it’s been!” Because it has been for most of us.
Since the day we graduated and left the life we had grown accustomed to after four years, life has happened whether we liked it or not – college, careers, marriages, children, separations, divorces, moving to different states – even some to different countries, accidents, deaths of our loved ones, both lasting friendships and broken ones too and just the normal ups and downs, twists and turns that life usually hands a person throughout their lifetime.
It’s these experiences that have helped shape the people we are today. Some of us are still the same at heart, just a little rougher around the edges and less naive but the same smiles grace our faces. Many of us may even be happy to see a familiar face or two or even ten who knew us back when our problems seemed far less simple and easier to navigate.
The graduating Class of 1995 from Ursuline Academy was not perfect by any means but despite our faults and obvious teenage girl tendencies, it was our class. I grew up along aside these girls, sometimes fearful of truly being myself and other times having no use to be anyone else but myself. Most of the time I was known as Saxton due to the fact that there were too many Jennifers in our class. But then again, last names as first names were common in our school.
At our 20 year class reunion, it seemed so natural to hear people calling me by my maiden name even though I’ve been a Hasamear for over eight years now. But while the stories were flowing, just as quickly as the drinks, it was obvious how close so many of us used to be. Maybe even closer than some of us thought. With the time and experiences we’ve each endured, many of us may have learned also that our lives are more alike now than we each thought.
While our entire class was not able to celebrate together at the reunion, it would’ve been nice to see even more familiar faces. But alas we know that too many of our lives are often dictated now not by what we may want to do but rather how the rest of our juggling acts pan out. To all those missing at the reunion, we missed your faces as much as your conversations. And hopefully sooner rather than later, we will come together again to raise our glasses to the lives we’ve continued to lead all these years after graduation, the memories that run as thick as blood through our veins and the high school that brought us all together as girls and helped mold us into the strong-willed, empowered women we are today.