By Christina Capecchi
It was 4 p.m., and hesitance was creeping in.
“Ten-year high-school reunion,” she tweeted. “To go or not to go?”
A single mom who had just been let go was facing a chance to prove she had not let herself go — and seeking a little courage online.
She played punk rock, applied extra blush and pinned on a homemade bridal hairpiece. Three hours later she was primped and pumped up. “I’m gonna rock it,” she typed.
There is nothing like a high-school reunion to force a long look in the mirror and the hard math of a decade, the difference between expectation and reality.
My “Evite” sent me flipping through the closet and shopping on the web. I’ve been watching RSVPs trickle in, tallying maiden names versus married names.
I got a little preparation last month at a wedding that doubled as a college reunion. I was taken aback by the range of social circles in attendance. Someone had lost 70 pounds. Someone had lost two front teeth. Someone had hired a life coach.
At one point a cluster of women compared wedding rings. “I don’t have a ring,” the lone single among them said, “but I just ran a marathon!”
Isn’t that the impulse, to wave away perceived shortcomings and loudly broadcast achievement?
In the movie “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” impact trumps accuracy. Asked what she’s been up to, Michele stammers: “Oh, OK. Um, I invented Post-Its.”
The gap between what was once imagined and what was actually accomplished can overwhelm. Undone items pop in the brain first — and stick. A neighbor lady raising two boys and forging a rewarding career refused to attend a reunion because she hadn’t become a lawyer, as she had vowed to do.
Status makes for easy answers, but they miss the heart of the matter. The real feats are subtler, defying measurement. Good relationships with your parents. A strong prayer life. An eagerness to rise from bed no matter what work awaits.
What a decade promises is vastly different from what it delivers. At 18 I couldn’t envision what it would look like to flesh out those generic resume subheads, education and experience, how they would add color and interest to every day. I couldn’t grasp the way stamps on a passport would lift flat countries into relief and rewire my thinking. I didn’t believe the tall, dark and handsome groom I dreamed of would indeed arrive, bringing intelligence and affection and teaching me what true partnership entails.
In the decade after high school, I thought I would have traveled faster and farther. But I got depth and quality instead of speed and range. God is good.
This month’s readings put things in perspective, illustrating the chasm between status and success. St. Paul urges the Colossians to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth,” and St. Luke tells the parable of the rich farmer who builds bigger barns to store all his grain.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Those insights don’t fit on a name tag or in a five-minute what-have-you-been-up-to talk. But if you have stored up divine treasures, then you can consider the past decade a resounding success and walk into that reunion with your head held high.