“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

What grade did we read watch A Tale of Two Cities?

For some, it was a horror, others, their prime years. Realistically, I doubt many view high school as the best of times. In the movie Dazed and Confused the character Pink, a high school football star, says, “All I’m saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself.”

Over the years, through the miracle of social media, I have seen the odd person lament of their high school reunion: “Why would I want to see any of those people again?”

The sailing was smooth for precious few in adolescence. I skipped my 10-year reunion partially due to having a project deadline but more so because I felt like I’d not yet accomplished enough to say, “So there!”

I was only 28 and still thinking silly high school thoughts. I’d not yet come to understand that this is not what reunions are about. Fret not over job titles, waistlines or hairlines, because no one cares. I made it to both my 20 and 25-year high school reunions and, unlike a lot of high school, they were very good times.

Admittedly, I was at first concerned over that 20-year event; that it would dredge up some bad memories. There was a person I knew would be there who I did not like. At least, 20 years previous I sure hadn’t liked him.

But an interesting thing happened when I saw him for the first time in over two decades. I felt … nothing. I remember loathing this fellow back in the day, and seeing him again made me realize that it was gone, and the sensation was liberating.

People change. We’re not who we once were in high school, and that’s a good thing. Certainly there were those I trespassed against, and I hope they give me another chance, because I’m not the person I was back then. No one is. The high school reunion gives you a chance to see how others have changed, and consider your own evolution as a human being.

Perhaps you did not have an occasional (or frequent) bad time of it. Perhaps your high school memories are all rainbows and puppy hugs. If so, that’s awesome. You shouldn’t need convincing to go for a bit of alcohol-induced reminiscing. But for those of you who worry that it might be a negative experience, I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Because good or bad, high school was an important time in your life, it was a period of momentous firsts. First loves and first cars and first concerts and even first fistfights. I barely remember people I went to university with; they’re a blur of faces in crowds. But I can bump into someone from high school in the grocery store and instantly know them, despite 30 years having gone by.

High school left a mark; it was a shared experience, and the reunion is not about reliving that experience, but remembering those you went through it with. You may rekindle old friendships or create new ones. The latter happened to me; at the 25-year reunion I connected with someone I’d had little interaction with in high school, but now we’ve become good friends who speak and hangout often (and not just on Facebook).

Speaking of Facebook, I do have an ulterior motive in writing this post. I’m hoping to reach those from my own school and encourage them to attend our 30-year reunion this coming July 23. Calgary’s Sir Winston Churchill High School, Class of 1986: this Facebook page is for you.

If you’re on the fence about attending your reunion, whichever school it may be for, I hope this has swayed you. As we get older we have a tendency to get a little more reclusive, but this is a good excuse to break with routine and do something completely different and, dare I say, fun. Sweat pants + Netflix isn’t going anywhere. That all being written, if it truly was a terrible time and the thought of your reunion fills you with “Nope!”, that’s okay too.

And if you were in my class, here’s my personal appeal: There is no guarantee we’ll have this chance again, so I hope you come, because no matter who you are, I know it will be nice to see you.

Tickets are going fast and the deadline approaches, so follow these instructions and I’ll see you there.



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James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.