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I’ve often envied my Casper friends who still run into classmates from 10th grade homeroom at the grocery store. They can attend reunions just by driving a few miles.

Leaving behind your hometown for adventure is an American tradition, but either staying put or coming back has unsung values. I should know; my parents left Pittsburgh, where I went to high school, and moved to a different state while I was in college, so trips home no longer connected to those pals of childhood. The closest I ever got to the old neighborhood was cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers and admiring the glamor shots of the city on televised football games. Until now.

An unexpected package from my brother arrived in the mail containing a scrapbook I kept in high school that he had unearthed in a dusty corner of his garage. He’s the one who gallantly hauled all the memento boxes out of our parents’ attic back to his own storage space for bygone and totally useless items.

Dusting off the decrepit book and opening its fragile pages, I discovered that I documented my high school basketball team’s (boys’ team; there weren’t girls’ teams then) winning season my sophomore year. In embarrassing detail and girlish handwriting, I raved about winning championship games and included all the newspaper clippings about it. There was even a complete transcription of one of the school’s cheers. Clearly a wannabe sports journalist at work.

This trip down memory lane prompted me to venture down another bottomless well – the Google search engine. Soon I discovered that my high school class has its own website that a good percentage of the class of 600 joined. I signed up and sure enough, up popped my high school senior picture with a sprayed hairstyle worthy of a sitcom involving the Fonz. Some shockingly energetic soul had collected such facts as that there were ten married couples from our class and that the price of lunch in our cafeteria was ten cents an item. Gas cost 31 cents a gallon. Could that possibly be true?

Within a day of joining, a handful of comments appeared celebrating the fact that I was the only graduate living in Wyoming. Friendly comments are now posted often and I strain to match the comment to the long-ago photos. Mainly I was struck that five guys from the class wrote emails. My memory of high school doesn’t include five young men who could easily converse with women, much less with me.

Is it possible that high school did include relaxed, friendly conversations between the sexes? Maybe if I hadn’t spent so much time working on the yearbook, filling out college applications and spraying my hair, I would have known that. But I suspect that we could all go back to high school and discover possibilities that never occurred to the teenagers we were. Realizing that everyone worries in high school would be a major step toward relaxing and enjoying the supposed “best years of your life.”

If I knew then what I know now.

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