Letting Go Gracefully, Without Regrets

Contemplating my 50th high school reunion got me thinking about friendships, acquaintanceships, and people I’m no longer in touch with.

I’m a person who stays connected. I make the calls, send the emails, arrange the visits, and keep up the connections. For years. But I wonder, When should I simply loosen my grip and let a friendship or acquaintanceship slide? Couldn’t I say to myself, We were friends for a certain moment in time and now that time has passed? It’s OK to let go gracefully without regrets.

I think I’ve done that with my high school friends. 

I’m mildly curious about a few people. There was the cute redheaded guy I daydreamed about in math class. We ran in the same circles, but never dated and with time I became infatuated with other guys. He later became an architect and developer and now is one of the wealthiest members of the class. 

I might enjoy talking with a brainy basketball star who was a good friend for a few years. She sat near me in several classes because our Catholic high school seated students alphabetically. However, even during college while I still lived in Toledo, we’d grown apart.

A dark-haired acquaintance who had a big voice and an even bigger laugh also comes to mind. We hung around together during school musicals—she was a performer and I was the costumer.

I’m curious about another dark-haired classmate in my advanced English class who became a nationally known journalist. We ran in different crowds (hers cooler than mine), but it would be fun to talk politics with her now, except she isn’t attending either. 

I felt a pang to see a close girlhood friend listed among the deceased. We parted in 6th grade when she moved to a different neighborhood and got interested in boys. I was still shy and awkward then, not ready to date. We’d let go long ago, but I was sorry to read she had been in poor health for years and was no longer married.

A friend who went to a different high school said her 50th reunion was the last one she’ll attend, because future reunions will involve classmates needing walkers and talk of who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. 

Her insight bolstered my decision to skip my 50th reunion. I’d rather remember my classmates as we were—young, high-spirited, and barely aware of life’s harder realities.

What I’d Like to Have Said to My 18-Year-Old Self as She Graduated from High School









  1. You’re prettier than you know—and prettier than you’ll ever be again in your life—enjoy it!
  2. Don’t be so afraid of trying new things and going after what you want—the worst thing that will happen is you won’t be good at something. So what! Quit waiting for your life to begin.
  3. Mmmm, girl, careful. It’s OK to try new things, but don’t do anything stupid that could change your life forever. I know all about those crazy guys you hung around with and the wild parties you went to. You were lucky.
  4. You were right to focus on your education and career—they took you further than anything else you could have done, and nobody can take them away from you. Women who trade on their looks are headed for a rude awakening when their looks fade, but your education and career will remain.
  5. When it comes to finding a husband, it pays to shop around. Aren’t you glad you didn’t stay with Bob or Brad? Find out what really matters to you—like wanting similar things out of life and being a good team when it comes to raising kids and managing a household. Take your time getting to know the guy—if it’s a good thing, it will keep.
  6. Your parents know more about life than you do and they truly want to help. You don’t have to do everything the hard way. Remember how they loaned you money for the car and the down payment on the house?
  7. Money matters. Have some of your own and expect to support yourself. Having a career can be a great equalizer in a marriage.

High School Reunion: Go or No? and Something Amazing But Good

When the notice of my 40th high school reunion arrived, my immediate reaction was, “This can’t possibly be right. I’m not THAT old.” But a little quick math (2012 – 1972 = 40 ?!?) told me it was true.

yeah, I’m afraid I really did have octagonal glasses . . .

And quick on the heels of that thought was, “Even if am that old, I have no wish to live in the past.”

But then I had a voicemail from the former class president—a really nice guy—somebody I’d always gotten along with. We weren’t that close, but I sensed we both yearned for something more out of life. I don’t know what he hoped for—but we recognized that in each other.

So that made me curious. As I recall, he was a runner and a good writer. What had he done with his life? That led to wondering about a few other people, and the Go/No Go debate was on.

I can think of a million reasons NOT to go. Here are four—

1. The reunion is in Ohio. I live in Minnesota.

2. I haven’t thought about high school or most of those people in years—why start now?

3. I have no desire to network with the insurance sales people or financial advisors in the group.

4. I don’t want to be squashed back into the shy insecure persona I had years ago just so I fit somebody’s memory of me.

And yet.

1. When I went to my 20th reunion, it was fun.

2. People seemed to remember my essential self—my best qualities—not how dorky I was.

3. They were kind. And genuinely pleased to see me . . . despite the prank I played with my profile in the memory book (The idea of bragging was distasteful to me, so I decided to be as outrageous as possible. I claimed to have won the Nobel Peace prize, to have married a rocket scientist, and to be raising two child prodigies. I assumed that description was so over-the-top that everyone would know I was joking. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so then I felt bad for mocking the profiles).

4. Certainly, after 40 years, we’ve all gotten over high school. No one cares any more about who was cool and who wasn’t. Now we’re all old (and therefore uncool).

Gawd, I sure hope we no longer have to prove anything to each other. Many of us wanted to be somebody, do something, make a mark. Did we? I don’t know, but I hope my classmates are at peace with whatever success (or lack of) they have.

Maybe I prefer to imagine that members of the class of 1972 at Central Catholic High School are content with their lives. I’m not sure I want to find out if some of them are still insecure and wearing their accomplishments like merit badges . . . .

After forty years, my classmates feel as I do: fond of some genuinely nice people I used to know.

What do you think—Should I go?  Or not?  Let me know!

If your 40th reunion is looming out there in the future, will you go?

Amazing But Good

Today, the Star Tribune reported, “Minnesota’s biggest Boy Scout group said that gays and lesbians remain welcome in its troops.” I applaud the Northern Star Council, which represents 75,000 Boy Scouts in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, for their inclusive stance—a position that bucks the national Boy Scouts of America policy banning openly homosexual people from participating in the Boy Scouts. See my June 21st blog, “A Parental Dilemma” for more on this topic.