Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homecoming Reunion

My children wear orange and black stripes. I want to support the town I live in, my parents' and children's hometown. I even bought a shirt with the word Tigers across the chest.

But it doesn't change the fact that my blood still runs like a Bulldog's.

Homecoming Court 1993
  I remember the dance to the fight song and am not afraid to do it.
Headed to Nationals, baby!
When I feel the bass drum of a marching band in my belly, I see red and black. When sneakers squeak on a gym floor, I remember slam dunks and three pointers and open mouthed opposing teams. When I walk in a theater, I feel at home.
Polariod taken during opening night. That look on my face? Acting. The dress? Sewn on.
When a football team rushes a field beneath a star-studded sky, I breathe deeply and wonder when the news helicopter will arrive to catch footage of our record-breaking running back and a team with heart.

That's what I remember most about my high school: heart.

When I hear someone (from another school, obviously) speak with anathema of their classmates, it saddens me. They missed out on so much. I'm not saying heartbreak and humiliation didn't happen to me or others--we were teenagers, after all--but there is so much more to treasure from those years. And the hard stuff taught me things. It was a good place to grow up because I was lucky to grow up with nice people.

And that can make all the difference.

I graduated with about 103 others.  In middle school, our class was twice that size, but closed factories, an oil bust and the economy caused a mass exodus. Maybe watching so many leave made us hold on to each other a little more.

We called ourselves The Class that Makes Traditions.  Yeah, we had a motto. We knew we were special.

10 year reunion.  Can you find me?
I missed my reunion this weekend.  Many things prevented me from attending, but on the morning of the reunion I thought the stars had aligned so that I could at least make the parade, tailgate, and game. For a couple of hours, I was ridiculously excited.

But, we had two people out at the office. Then, my daughter got sick.  Then...

I went on Facebook to wish a classmate a belated birthday. After posting a cheery message on his board, I scrolled down.

My heart stopped. My throat burned. I didn't like the messages before mine. As I sent a text to two of the reunion organizers who were probably herding classmates toward a parade float, I prayed that Jimmie was there with them. That I'd misunderstood the messages.

He wasn't.

Then I received messages from other classmates asking if I'd seen his wall and wondered the same as I.  We watched Facebook. Eventually, someone posted that he'd been in an accident that morning and had not made it.  I deleted my birthday wish and added a comment of condolences instead.

And cried.

I went to school with nice people, and we lost another one. Jimmie's smile, and orneriness, and energy will forever be a part of my memories and my life. Thank you for that, Jimmie.

And thank you to my classmates for being such a fun and loving group through the years.  Thank you for your heart.

This photo was all over Facebook. I'll give photo credit when someone fesses up.


  1. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! Makes me proud to be a Bulldog..."yeah we had a motto, we knew we were special" Dang right!! lol, love that line!!

    1. Thank you! I never realized it until now that modesty was not a strong suit of our class. Ha!

  2. This shook me up. But, thank you for sharing your beautiful memories and your heartbreaking loss.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It helps to know my words touched someone.

  3. Brandi this is a touching memorial to the intensity of high school, the highs the lows, the attachments, and the loss. Wonderful heart felt post.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I was lucky to experience high school with such a great group of people. Teen years are difficult enough, right?

  4. So sorry you had to miss your reunion as it sounds as though you still have many treasured friends and memories from that time in your life. My high school experience was also a mixture of good and bad learning experiences, but sadly I haven't kept up with those classmates. We had a huge class (637) and I and my parents moved far away from the town, making it harder to remain in touch.

    1. It definitely makes it a challenge when there are no family ties that prompt one to return. I'd love to hear if you attended your reunion or not. If you did, I'm sure you wore spectacular shoes!

  5. I'm sorry to hear that you lost a classmate - he was so young! I am glad (but not surprised) that you enjoyed high school and attended with a good group. Like Dee Dee - my class was well over 600 and many didn't know each other (over 1500 students the school). I have mixed memories also and can't see blue and gray together without saying an involuntary "Go IKE!"

    1. "...and many didn't know each other..."

      During my freshman year at OU, a group of about six of us stood around chatting until one of them asked, "Brandi, aren't you going to introduce us?"

      I was baffled. "You all graduated high school together."

      Not a single one knew another. That's a mathematically impossible situation with the alum of my little school.

  6. I'm like you. I loved high school. I think that's a big perk from a small school.

    1. Yep. To have the freedom to choose more than one activity in which to participate was an incredible perk for me. There's something to be said about a village and raising a child.;)