Lifelong friendships with our school friends are rare gifts. They are built on a foundation of shared context and nurtured through common experiences and similar acquaintances. Stories are so much easier to tell among school friends because there is no need to explain the cast of characters or how they are connected. Unfortunately, the common context that makes these relationships so strong also makes them exclusive. Rarely, do we let others enter our high school cliques later in life.
Recently, I was invited to a Halloween party in Findlay with an invitation list that predominantly consisted of ladies who graduated from Findlay High School in 1977 and 1978. Like many groups of high school friends, these ladies have stayed quite close and have traveled through life’s entire journey together: marriage and divorce, children and grandchildren, careers, vacations, sickness and celebrations. I know most of the ladies as individuals but had never experienced their group dynamic.
Clad in my witch’s hat for the Halloween party, I arrived anxious to partake in good food and good cheer. Soon after arriving, I realized that I had been given a front row seat to watch an amazing group of friends who went to a different high school but are the same age as me. I was getting to peek behind the curtain and watch the group dynamics of a lifelong group of friends.
At first glance, the Findlay High School and North Baltimore High School classes of the late 1970s seemed to bear little resemblance to one another, especially since Findlay’s graduating classes of that era were ten times larger than NBHS: 660 for FHS and 65 for NBHS.
As the high school stories began to unfold, I realized that our experiences were quite similar as the conversation followed common themes. There were lots of stories tied to dating and dances and proms. There was discussion about who dated whom and in what order. Many conversations recalled the cars we drove in high school. It’s funny how 35 years later everyone still remembers who drove the yellow Pinto. Many laughs surrounded high school parties and the accompanying teenage shenanigans. They talked about extracurricular activities. At 54 years old, we still self-identify by who was in the band, who was a cheerleader, and who was in the high school musical.
Since we were all the same age, many of the laughs focused on life in the late 1970s: the clothes of the disco era, the gas guzzling cars, and the rock music. I learned that it didn’t matter if one grew up in Findlay or North Baltimore; we were having fun doing the same things. Those 1970s pictures with flipped back hairstyles might make us look silly now but we were sure having a lot of fun.
I feel extremely honored that the ladies from FHS 77/78 allowed me to laugh about their high school stories with them at the Halloween party. The way they continue to support each other through good times and bad is a great roadmap for lifelong friendships.
On the other hand, it made me miss my NBHS ‘78 friends and our funny stories where I know the entire cast of characters. Ladies, I think it is time to reconvene again for an evening of laughs and to nurture our precious lifelong friendships. See you soon!
And for the rest of you, find your school friends. Reconnect! Share some laughs!