This weekend is my 20th high school reunion.
Unfortunately I won’t be attending as the family and I have already driven the 600-mile, 10-hours round-trip trek over the river and through the woods to my parent’s house, five times in five months with one last planned trip scheduled for August.
That doesn’t even include the often-driving we have to do once we’re there to visit friends and family. If you live, or have lived, in the Seattle region you know it’s never a quick drive to anywhere.
The drives start to take a toll on you, not to mention the van you purchased in November because your other two vehicles had already taken their tolls. The kids are thrown off their schedules (yes, we actually utilize a dinner and bedtime schedule), which makes for an often whiny next day, which makes for a more crabby and tiresome Mom and Dad. (Maybe this is why people don’t utilize schedules.)
Needless to say, I’m sorry fellow Bearcats (87-percent of them who are still unsure of who I am, 9-percent of them I’ve only gotten to know courtesy of Facebook – and after 1995 – and 4-percent of them I was actually friends with in high school, but only 1 to maybe 2-percent of them will actually attend the reunion) but I won’t be in attendance this weekend as we celebrate 20 years since we started a new chapter in our lives.
By the way, I didn’t actually calculate those percentages, they were just random numbers that spewed from my head at 8:18 a.m. on Wednesday, July 22.
Feel free to blame my brother for having a baby shower and then a baby (actually his wife had the baby, but I like to think it’s a team effort from the start), my buddy for wanting me there as he proposed to his now-fiancee, and my mom for having a birthday on the 4th of July, and the cousin and uncle who came up to visit with them during that time – and who I hadn’t seen in years, and of course my fantasy football family, who I’ve spent 15 years drafting with, and who I’ll visit in August for our annual draft. It’s their fault that we can’t attend.
I honestly am bummed. I’ve heard that recent reunions (not ours but friends of mine’s reunions) have been lackluster. Our planning committee has done a nice job of making this a three-day event, with actual events. It looks fun and I’m bummed that we’ll miss out on the action. Honestly bummed (especially the more I write about it). The gals that organized the event have once again done a great job, and were also nice enough to invite me to join the planning committee, even though they didn’t really know who I was in high school. I felt honored, but they’ve seen my work via Facebook (Relay For Life, fundraisers, community events, etc.) and knew that I might come with some fresh ideas. But alas we moved, I couldn’t help out, and now I’m skipping the action. I’m sorry ladies, but nice work and I’ll set aside time for the 25th?
It was all this that made me want to reflect on my senior year.
I don’t regret my senior year. I learned a lot, I opened up a bit, I actually had a girlfriend, I thought I fell in love, I got invited to a senior party, it was all a new experience for me.
And for those of you that know me know as a loud, obnoxious, goofy, pushing-38-year-old, who loves to have fun, meet new people, be a social butterfly, love talking in front of people and entertaining the masses well … that wasn’t me in high school. I think I held it in so much, afraid of what people might think of me, that when I finally met Lis, realized she was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and realized I had no one else to impress, I let go and life became much more relaxing and fun. Add that to the top 10 Reasons I’m Happy I Married Lis list. NOTE: No list exists, but I might have a future anniversary post in the making.
I have no regrets, but if I were to do my senior year over again I’d do some things differently. Lis and I just discussed. We don’t think it’s a contradiction because I don’t regret what I did, but knowing what I know now I would’ve done some things different. And I just repeated myself.
So let’s jump in the DeLorean, flip on the flux capacitor and set the date for 1995, so Present-Day Kevin could talk to Going-Into-Senior-Year Kevin.
We pick up where last week’s Flashback Friday left off. (Technically we’d have to flip the switch to 1994 then, wouldn’t we?)
It’s the first day of school. September 1994 and I spot myself pulling into the parking lot of the high school. I had just dropped off my brothers at Monroe Middle School. I park, get out of my car and begin my nervous walk towards my Senior Year. I’m wearing a green No Fear t-shirt, which I consider one of my nicer shirts (and I wonder why Lukas never wants to wear a button up either), denim shorts, my KJ Converse basketball shoes and a Houston Astros hat. In other words, “What was I thinking?”
Because if I let Minutes-Into-Senior Year Kevin actually see Present-Day Kevin it would throw off the balance of the Earth (leave me alone, it’s my make believe time travel scenario) then I’m forced to insert a letter inside my/his Jansport, which is hanging from his/my right shoulder.
The letter reads something like this:
Dear Senior Year Kevin:
It’s 20 years later and you’ve decided to skip out on your 20th reunion. Why? Well you’ll have to wait and find out as I just spent 20 minutes handing out excuses as to why I’m not coming in a website that you’ll end up writing on 20 years later. What’s a website? You’ll shortly find out. Just know there’s a lot of information out there on these website things and a lot of crap out there, and though we’d like to think we received more information than crap, we didn’t.
You probably don’t believe it’s really me, so to share with you something that maybe only you and I know I’ll tell you that Dapper Dan is safe and sound and again playing a big part of your life. Yes, 20 years later. I won’t scare you by telling you how or why he’s playing a big part again, but he’s around A LOT! Oh and brush up on your Disney Princesses. Just do it.
How was your summer? A lot of hanging out with friends and crushing on another. About that … turns out that girl kind of does like you. I just think she doesn’t think you’re boyfriend material yet. Unfortunately that time has passed. Yes, there’s still time but if you change anything it will alter the future, and the person you’ve ended up with is a near-perfect fit for you. I’d say in nine out of 10 ways. I okay’d that number with her. She knows what’s missing. I can’t tell you.
And no it’s not your high school crush, though she’ll pop up in your life in an odd way, and you’ll actually become friends. Again, I can’t tell you anything that may alter the future, just little changes you can and should make that will make life happier. But you can stop thinking about possible scenarios of how you might end up together. Things worked out perfectly for you both.
Let me start by saying, you’re not as bad looking as you think you are, but dude…lay off the soda! It will come back to haunt us years down the road. Something called GERD which tears your upper-insides apart. Drinking water with meals is not as bad as you think, and drinking milk with every meal is.
Which reminds me, you’re not always going to weigh 145. Nope, currently we’re at 215. Before you gasp, that’s the best we’ve weighed in years. We once ballooned up to 240, but are currently in the best shape of our adult life. Yes we’ve weighed less than that, but we’ve never felt as good on the inside as we do now. Oh, and your friends are going to call you fat even when you weigh 185. Deal with it. They’re kind of annoying.
Also, since this message is just for Senior Year Kevin (I’m doing a flashback to 1995, so we’re sticking to 1995), we won’t be talking about the future, what we do for work, relationships we may or may not have had, and sports. But if you’re going to jump on any bandwagons pick the San Antonio Spurs, the St. Louis Cardinals (even though the Yankees will be the team starting next season), and stick with the Indianapolis Colts. That’s right, you’ve become a football fan in the future. Oh that’s right …
You know how you just spent your sophomore and junior years organizing fantasy sports leagues using a binder, the newspaper and precious homework time? Well this fantasy sports thing has become HUGE business, especially football! Everyone and their mother – literally (also a popular word these days) – do fantasy football. If you can find a way to get into this business ASAP, DO IT! Wait, I told you no big ideas, we can’t alter anything too drastically. You actually like your current life. Scratch that! Ugh…would’ve been nice to get on the ground floor of something you were doing before most everyone else was. And darnit I don’t have enough time to tell you who to pick in each season.
I’m writing to tell you to get involved with school functions. You’ll love it and will end up making new friends. I never did that in high school and I wish I did because I love it now. That’s right we love meeting new people and organizing functions that bring joy to people. Try it out this year! Someone will suggest you play Gilligan in a sketch. Actually push for it, you’d be great. Not only are you built like Gilligan but you’re kind of goofy like him too. You know you are, stop pretending you’re someone else.
I’m not saying make different friends, but the friends that you currently have aren’t into the same stuff as what you like to do – on the inside. They don’t want to go to school dances, parties, heck they don’t even show up to the 10-year reunion. They want you to organize stuff for them, and then they’ll think about showing up. But there are people out there like you and what a great opportunity to meet these people. So try it out! Join a club, volunteer to help with the float, or anything else Senior related. At first you may be looked at as an outsider, but … well it is high school so you probably will … but you never know.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing on your current friends. In fact two of them will continue to be close friends with you, even becoming your BFFs (Best Friend Forever – another saying that was popular). You’ll go through some serious crud and they’ll be there through it all. Yes, especially the may be annoying but he’s a great friend. No, I can’t tell you which one. But if you get past the annoyance you’ll know who I’m referring to.
Pay attention in journalism class, and English class. Like seriously, PAY ATTENTION! Of all your classes these are the two you’ll regret sucking at. You’ve ended up becoming a decent writer (dare I say people actually enjoy what you have to write?), so if you do well in Journalism and English you’ll feel more confident, make fewer errors, and won’t have to ask Google about certain vocabulary words. Oh Google … yah, thankfully we didn’t invest in encyclopedias, Google is a giant search engine … forget it.
Yes you’ll write a few stories for the school newspaper but DON’T, I repeat DON’T do what I did and let one of the girl’s basketball players pass notes to the coach and other players for your stories. Actually attend home games and interview them yourselves. Honestly they don’t bite, and you’ll end up becoming friends with the coach on Facebook years later. Skip that whole Facebook word, that’s a whole ‘nuther beast. Anyway, interview the players, it’s good practice for when you eventually will need to use it. Heck, you’ll even end up interviewing this coach for something else. Not going to say doing what but … kudos. Now imagine if we actually paid attention in Journalism and English class!
Oh yah, dances, yes, Mom will get her wish and you’ll go to the school dance. Actually all of them. I know right?!
We believe that things happen for a reason (even though we’re writing this), so I won’t tell you about relationships. God blessed the broken road that led you straight to where you’re at. You’ll understand that last sentence later in life. It comes from a country song. Oh that’s right, you don’t listen to country. You will, for a couple years at least.
Anyway, you’ll have your first girlfriend soon – for two weeks. Though she’ll be your first kiss you’ll end up hurting her when you hold hands (the high school equivalent of cheating) with a different girl at Homecoming. Why would you go to Homecoming with a different girl? Well, a) you’re an idiot and b) the relationship was kind of forced, you asked the dance girl before you had this girlfriend and c) you’re an idiot. Instead of jumping into this ‘relationship’ just end up befriending the girl. You’ll end up having a ton in common and not end up hurting her and ruining your friendship. Idiot!
This dance girl will end up being a relationship you thought was going to last a lifetime. It was fun, and made me a believer in … SPOILER ALERT … having your heart broken at least once in your life. You’ll end up having a great Senior year because of this relationship, but when it’s over she’ll check out early, and then deliver one of the best break up lines you’ll ever hear telling you, “I’m sorry. I feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel; just a train coming at us.” Ouch and … great line! Personally I think she wanted to take advantage of the “If You’re Dating a Senior Then You Get to Go to Prom” clause because she ended up going every year after she went with you. I kid … a little.
Oh, now that you’re a father … can’t believe it either can you … I will say that cool your horny-teenage thoughts and actions with this girlfriend of yours. She’s only 16, and though that seems like “of age” it’s not. Oh, and relax, you don’t actually get laid so cool your excitement.
Also, her ‘checking out’ caused you frustration and you had your first major public flip out. Try not to do that. When you figure out she’s done with you (I think it was late Summer) just let her go. It’s not worth it. You had a great time, it didn’t last forever, it shouldn’t have lasted forever, and you learned a lot from both the relationship and the heartbreak.
For example, all this relationship heartache will make you fall in love with Boyz II Men all over again. “On Bended Knee” will become your jam, and all of a sudden you’ll understand what every song they are singing about actually means. Love is stupid that way. By the way, II is still our favorite album. Isn’t it great?
Oh, you’ll start working. I wouldn’t change it, but there is a time when Amber gets on Erik’s case because he messed up an order at the drive thru. She quickly banishes him to dish-washing duty and you stick up for him asking her how he’ll learn from his mistakes. Unfortunately you must have raised your voice or had bulging eyes because she wasn’t happy, and you got talked to. In the end it’s not worth it, especially since Amber becomes Erik’s daughter’s Godmother. Don’t ask.
You’ll have a lot of fun in that job. You’ll meet new friends, and in the end that job will end up being one of your best jobs you’ve ever had. Kind of miss it actually.
Oh, I know you love sports but don’t love them too much. Our teams never win … NEVER!
Let’s see what else?
Just have fun. Be yourself. It’s easy for me to say now, I mean you’re in high school, nobody is actually themselves in high school. We’re all trying to impress someone, but in the end it doesn’t matter. But try to be yourself. Be fun, have fun, meet new people, always smile.
It’s funny we hold our high school years to such a high level. We cherish them. We reminisce about them. We want them to define our future. We want to compare ourselves to people we went to high school with. I’m not sure why. It was four years of our adolescence. We were young. We were stupid. We knew little. Why can’t we move on?
I have no wise words of wisdom.
Personally, practice and attempt patience. You’ll struggle with temper issues a ton. We already have. If you can learn to relax, or walk away that’d be great help in the future.
Learn to love and trust God earlier than you learned to love and trust Him.
Pray. Pray for patience and wisdom.
Relax. Don’t try to do too much, and don’t think you have to do everything all the time.
Find joy in the simple and little things in your life.
Don’t put too much on your plate. You like to and then you get stressed and well … back to that practicing patience thing.
Learn from everyone in your life.
Don’t put your parent’s on a high pedestal. They make mistakes too, heck, you’re their oldest so they’re learning from their mistakes as they raise a soon-to-be high school graduate.
Cherish your time spent with family and friends, you never know when they may not be around.
Read, and not just your Sports Illustrated. Oh, try the book of James, Proverbs and Job. They’re in the Bible.
If something feels wrong, it’s likely wrong so don’t do it.
Do your best to not be tempted by the Dark Side … like lust.
Learn Portuguese, it’ll come in handy one day.
Don’t take things personal, and don’t let people make you feel bad so you end up hurting yourself. If you can walk away from situations when your ears feel warm then you’ll live a better life.
Oh, and you’ll have a son one day. You’ll love what you name him. But go easy on him those first couple of years. Don’t try to be that perfect parent raising that perfect kid. You only end up frustrating yourself and making life worse for those around you.
There’s so much more I could and should stay but I’ll just end with this…
Don’t take things too seriously.
Always have fun no matter what you’re doing.
And finally May the Force be with you young Kevin! (By the way, they make three more Star Wars movies, with five planned to come out every year for the next five years – amazing!)
As I sneak up to stick it into our Jansport I realize, life has been pretty darn good. Sure there have been a ton of stupid mistakes, decisions where I wish I would’ve taken the other fork in the road, but currently I love every part of my life.
Yes, I wish I would’ve taken school and then community college more seriously.
Yes, I wish I participated more in high school, but not doing them made me realize how badly I love doing them when I got older.
Yes, I wish I had been more patient with people in my life and not blown up in certain situations.
I wish I would’ve taken the job with the travel website writing about their travel packages instead of being false-promised to about the insurance office I work for but … well, maybe that last one.
But overall I love the family I built and wouldn’t change any of my stupid mistakes I’ve made (well some of the deep dark secrets I might) because they all brought me to here.
So instead of putting the note into our Jansport I rip it up, return to the DeLorean and head home. Cue Huey Lewis and the News’ “Power of Love.”
What Happened Elsewhere in 1995
Phew … now to talk about the things that happened during the Summer of ’95. All the fun stuff that played a small part of my summer of ’95 (and some that played a decent-size part).
Summer of Love … and Friends … and Hootie!
I already wrote about my “first love” above (hey, that rhymed!). The Summer of ’95 was also a fun time of hanging out with my buddies. I flew to California to hang out with my buddy Dennis, in a sort of post-graduation celebration for ourselves. He went down to visit his grandma, I came down weeks later. We hung out, visited with my uncle and went to Disneyland. Just two single dudes spending time at the Happiest Place on Earth.
That summer we also drove my little pickup truck to Lake Chelan. We didn’t know how to party we just wanted to see what all the fuss of Lake Chelan was about. I got my first ticket on the drive over the mountains, we camped, we stayed in a hotel, we stayed up late, I remember making people laugh and my buddy saying that it’s the “funniest he’s seen me be.” I remember it being the first time I had come out of my shell. And it was fun! Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand” became my summer song of 1995, and will forever remind me of driving over Stevens Pass. I still have to put it on when we reach the back side (which is now our side) of the mountains. Good times, great memories!
Alicia Again? As if!
There weren’t many movies that intrigued me that summer of ’95. Two of my favorite movies came out that summer, both Before Sunrise and Usual Suspects. I didn’t find Usual Suspects until it was on the VHS rental rack months later. I judged a book by its cover and it ended up becoming one of one of my favorite films. Before Sunrise we didn’t see until 18 years later. Great movie with a wonderful script and story, and ended up being the start of a beautiful trilogy.
If you read my Flashback Friday to 1994 you read about how I was crushing on Alicia Silverstone, and probably why I think chicks look hot in white Jeeps. Well she wasn’t far removed from my mind as her hit movie Clueless came out in July. I went “rolling with my homies” and watched it. And we loved it! AS IF! No seriously, we did. I was crushing on Alicia, Josh was crushing on Stacey Dash and years later I’m looking to trade crushes. Funny 20 years later and I’ll be taking my kids to another Paul Rudd movie, this one called Ant-Man.
TOW “I Just Grabbed a Spoon” AKA Those Other Friends
My infatuation with the TV show Friends began shortly after the first season began. As I mentioned in my letter Boyz II Men helped me understand love songs and heartache. Friends sort of did the same thing for me. I remember the juice box scene and could understand the joke. I didn’t watch Friends from reruns or Netflix, I started about seven episodes in and didn’t stop for 10 friggin’ years (and probably a season or two too long). I obsessed over this show too much … TOO MUCH! Remember that relax thing I talked about I should’ve relaxed, but I didn’t. I compared me and my buddies to Chandler and Joey (I was Ross of course). I made personal highlight reels on VHS. I collected magazine covers. I even wrote a friggin’ English paper about how unrealistic Friends was. I crushed big time on Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston is still No. 1 on my laminated list, solely because of Rachel Green), and little on Ross Geller (I still gel my hair and comb it forward like early-seasons Ross).
I remember watching the first season finale and waiting, waiting and waiting for Ross to get off that plane then … cliffhanger! Ugh! I’ll take the second season over any of the 10, but the 1st will always remind me of 1995 and how it felt being introduced to my new friends. Could I be that more addicted?
Refuse to Lose
There weren’t too many sports moments that come to my mind when I think of ’95. Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s amazing consecutive playing streak, but that was in the Fall, the Phoenix Suns were ousted – again – by the Houston Rockets, and the Seattle Mariners were refusing to lose.
I was lucky enough to be at the one-game playoff against the California Angels, but during the summer the M’s made an incredible rally to tie the Angels and then defeat them in the playoff. Then came Edgar’s double and baseball was alive and well in Sea-town. I remember attending a couple of games during that magical run. I remember clutch hits. I remember a home run from Tino Martinez that sort of ignited the comeback. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it so let’s relive The Double shall we? Better yet, the game I was at on October 2, 1995.
Playing My Jams!
I lied. In the prior post I wrote about how 1994 was the year for music for me. No, 1995 they were playing my jams! Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It“, Notorious BIG’s “One More Chance” remix with Faith Evans, Skee-Lo’s “I Wish,” Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It,” MoKenStef, Adina Howard, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Shaggy’s “Boombastic” were great summer jams.
We were introduced to “Lightning Crashes” by Live, that angry Canadian named Alanis Morrisette, and something called Lump.
For me it was all the slow jams that made me understand life, live and heartache. Anything by my Boyz, of course (“Water Runs Dry” anyone?). I loved me some Jon. B featuring Babyface with “Someone to Love” and Keith Martin’s “Never Find Someone Like You. “Every Little Thing” by Soul for Real, “I Can Love You Like That” by All-4-One and anything by TLC, Janet Jackson, Michael and his nephew’s (3T) jam “Anything.”
Yes, it was the Summer of Love in more ways than one
You’ll find my Spotify playlist below.