Glen Ellyn, Illinois…I’m coming home.

Well, it's kind of home. I've asked enough of my personal friends their opinions on whether I should attend my class reunion. I got a couple "you would GO to something like that?" responses, but mostly people telling me that I should go. While I half-anticipated a Romi & Michelle kind of a situation, I'm not going with a point to make. I admit to the normal curiosity around what people are doing and their kids. "You have a kid that old? You aren't old enough to have a kid that old! Oh wait, you are and I am too!" (I still feel about 29). But I have a terrible memory so really don't recall whose opinion I should care about and whose I shouldn't anyway. I'm living the life I want and I hope all my classmates are as well. That's probably the best way to go into something like this. It's OK to just relax about it and have fun. That's the plan. I decided to go date-less because seriously? Who wants to torture someone with stories about your awkward years and pictures of kids from people they don't know. I'm rolling into Chicago the same way I left: solo. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Aside from the curiosity around how people turned out and the desire to just have fun, there's something about returning to the Chicago area that is a little different for me. I felt it when I drove up the Kennedy Expressway last month, going from Michigan to O'Hare airport. Other than that drive, I haven't been back to Chicago since 2000. I've kind of intentionally stayed away. This probably sounds like a script from some bad movie and maybe it is but I have some weird feelings about the concept of "home". Specifically, I have never felt "at home" anywhere enough to call it home. When people ask me where "home" is, I'm not sure whether to tell them Chicago or LA (the 2 places I lived the longest) because though I feel drawn to those places and I miss those places, there's no definitive home base for me. Does that sound sad? Throughout my life I have moved around enough that no one place ever stuck as "home". Fortunately, I was in Glen Ellyn from 7th grade through the completion of high school, but I have to admit that I always felt a little different then the kids that went to grade school together. Now does this sound crazy? Because of all my moving around, I have become bad at staying in touch with friends across time and miles.

I have some great memories from high school, but this is basically the reason why I had been reluctant to commit to going to my reunion. I felt like I was going to walk alone into a room full of people that I don't know any more, if I ever did (well, obviously  I knew some of them). See? All of this self analysis without a bill from the shrink! What it came down to for me was whether or not I was going to let that stop me from going and having fun. And I think I realized that with all my mixed feelings about Chicago (one of the places where I was happiest and saddest in my life, started my career, made some interesting fashion choices and did some stupid things...ins't it funny how that works?), I really wanted to go so I could feel better about everything. It's kind of like the pleasure and pain of scratching an itch (or something like that).

Anyway, I'm sure there will be some re-connecting and I am actually really looking forward to meeting people again. If I could get my HS photo online I would post it here so you can all laugh at the hair. It's pretty comical.

Comments (27)

  1. Tim says:

    You, my friend, are a very brave soul. Not just to go back to your high school reunion, but put the experience on your blog. I applaud you for both. I never went back to mine because a) most of my family still lives in my home town and b) I figured I already kept in touch with all the people I wanted to (except Dana Peterson, what happened to her?)

    Let me know how it turns out?

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, I thought "hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have blogged about that" shortly after I left the house yesterday. But obviously people go to these things so I’m sure that other people have feelings about going back. I don’t have any family there and haven’t for many years. So it will be great just to see some things.

    I won’t have any dramatic ex-boyfriend sightings or anything. I never dated anyone in my grade; not for any particular reason. So there’s no drama around that.

    I guess I just figured with this whole thing that I can leave at any time. It’s a quick trip. But I hope it’s fun. I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll provide a lot of detail about the trip. We’ll see how it goes 🙂

  3. crawdad13 says:

    You are sooo required to provide dramatic detail. (and make some stuff up if tere isn’t any worth relaying.  I especially want to hear all about the music.  Will it be more Depeche Mode/ Pet Shop Boys or will it be more REO/ Journey, Outfield?

    Will there be boys that you had massive crushes on that will break your heart just a little bit when you see them all fat and innapropriately dressed?

    Will there be drama when you get back together with the six people that you knew from back then, that will actually have the guts to show up, and one of the guys (now divorced after being married for three years and having a kid who is a lot like his mom) when he tells you how much he liked you back then (and continues to more aggressively tell you throughout the night as he drinks more (because what does he have to lose?)

    will you drink to much and kiss a boy(or girl) because "what the hell, it’s not like you’re going to see them again." then feel really awkward when you realize that you flew all the way across country and there are still two hours left before you were planning on going back to your hotel and now you don’t know if you should feel obligated to hang out with the Kissee or if you can just pretend it didn’t happen…or if you should just bag it because there really isn’t anyone else that you want to see — except that you heard "INSERT NAME HERE" is coming and you really DO want to see him because you have only heard storie about him for the past few years and haven’t talked to him at all in, like, 7 years and wonder if he is bringing his boyfriend (speaking of DRAMA)

    Reunions are awesome, terrifying and SAD. they make us realize the ultimate consequences of our choices and, as a purely sociological exercise, are fascinating to behold.

    I hope you have all of the awesome, a little of the terrifying and absoltely none of the sad.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Dude…crawdad13! You have a very vivid imagination! Some of those things have already happened. I can promise you that paragraph 4 is NOT going to happen. I don’t plan on drinking enough to be kissing anyone from high school, but that is funny to think about. I hope someone else does that!

    There really isn’t anyone in my grade where there would be drama over whether they are going to be there. I really only dated people in the 2 grades higher (I had a couple of "serious"—as serious as you can be when you are a teenager—boyfriends in high school, both of them older). And obviously they won’t be there.

    As far as whether people are fat and inappropropriately dressed, don’t think I care too much as long as folks are happy. I mean, I don’t want to be fat and inappropriately dressed (though my friend Denise told me last night that my "cocktail dress" is not cute enough for the event), but I hear that at these things, it’s inevitable. I have seen photos from previous years’ reunions and the old boyfriends are in them….some hard to recognize. Whatever….time marches on. It’s not like I look the same as I did when I got my diploma. I look better (haha).

    Crawdad13, if nothing particularly exciting happens, perhaps you would be willing to make up a story for me. It sounds so dramatic and interesting the way you talk about it. 🙂

  5. Andy says:

    "I still feel about 29" – That doesn’t surprise me at all because you still look about 27 or 28 in person. The first time I ever saw you I was at a MSFT event and I asked a MSFT person who you were because I thought you were A.) hot, and B.) a little younger than me and single. I was right about the hot and single parts and I still can’t believe you are older than I am because you sooooo do not look it.

    Definitely go to your reunion so you can have conversations like:

    Person: So Heather what do you do?

    Heather (very sweetly): I am a senior recruiter for the world’s largest software firm. Perhaps you’ve heard of us? We are called Microsoft.

    *awkward silence*

    Person: Oh

    Heather: So what do you do?

    Person: I’m a stay at home mom but sometimes I hold candle parties for extra money when my husbands job at Thriftway doesn’t quite make enough.

    I totally had some conversations along those lines at my reunion. It was a blast because I went to a music boarding school in Finland and some of my class mates are still small time poor musicians who play pubs on weekends as their primary income source. Sometimes it’s good to be a geek 🙂

  6. average size tim says:

    Hell, I didn’t go to my high school reunion because I didn’t want to hear people drone on about how they became doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers (new trier). God I hated that place.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jeez Andy; always the ego-booster. What event was it? I didn’t know that we had ever met in person. I must have been having a good hair day 🙂 Maybe I’ll pop into the ten year reunion and see what’s going on! (haha!)

    I’m so not pulling out the Microsoft card at the reunion (do you think people really care…I’m proud of it but still). People can ask, but I don’t want to be the arrogant butthead that people talk about after the event.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the interesting careers some of my class-mates have (I’m not just saying that). I don’t pass judgement on the stay-at-home mom thing. To each his/her own. As long as they can have a conversation about something other than kids, I’m game. There’s so much to choose from: Britney Spears, political scandal, why Matthew McCaughnahey likes the sound of his own voice but shuns shirts. I could go on. I will admit that I don’t have any friends that are stay-at-home moms but that’s mostly because a lack of anything in common. What I do have in common with any that will be at the reunion is that we went to HS together. So it will be fun.

    average size tim – all us raiders hated new trier too 🙂 OK, in all seriousness, I think New Trier had a significantly higher household income than South did, so I am not surprised by what you said. I met some of those kids when I was in school and it did seem a bit like something out of Cruel Intentions.

  8. wine-oh says:

    My high school hated our class so much they banned us from having a 10 yr reunion. OUCH!

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, wine-oh, what exactly did you do wrong?

  10. Wine-Oh says:

    Me, personally nothing. But we were a class of 60  at a small nyc private school and alot of kids lets say acted out and must have left a lasting impression. So much so that they didnt want us to have a reunion. Oh well.

  11. Bad_Brad says:

    I went to my 10-year HS reunion a few years back (I won’t say how many).  I was very glad that I went.  Sometimes it’s just good to go back to your roots.  It’s also interesting to see how everyone has changed and what they are doing.  I won’t say it’s interesting to see "how their lives turned out" because frankly, their lives are in progress, just as yours and mine are.  I was not at all surprised at what some folks were doing, but was very surprised by others.  Some stayed close to home, some had been around the world.  Some were single, some were married with their fifth kid on the way, some were already divorced.  A few had come out of the closet.  Some were in the best physical shape of their lives, some had put on 50 pounds since HS.

    All in all, it was a great time and I’m very glad I went.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, maybe they’ll forget by the time your 20th rolls around.

    Bad_Brad, I didn’t go to my tenth because I was traveling in Asia. I heard that people hadn’t changed all that much (well, for most of us, we went to college and then were only out for 6 years). What you are describing is what I am expecting at my reunion (though, obviously, not my tenth). I’m definitely feeling like I am going to get something out of going back beyond satisfying my curiosity. Part of it may be that I haven’t had a decent piece of pizza or hot dog in a very long time (truth be told, the last hotdog I had was a year ago in NYC….if you can’t have a real NY or Chicago dog, there’s no point). If memory serves, there’s a Portillo’s close by and that may be my first stop. I need a fix.

  13. crawdad13 says:


    Do reform schools even have reunions? (mine didn’t)

  14. RJD says:

    #20 is coming up next year for me, too.  By the time I was in 5th grade, I had lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, California and Kentucky (yes, I do have odd speech patterns, especially when you add in another 15 years between Alabama and Pennsylvania).  I stayed in Ky until college, when the folks moved to Chicago, so I’m basically homeless, and I know where you’re coming from.  I did a lousy job keeping up with friends.

    From a class of 640, 499 of us graduated, and about 100 of us actually went to college.  There are only a couple I’d really want to reconnect with, so I’m still deciding if I want to make the trip.  I now live two hours away from the old college halls, and I haven’t been to any of those reunions, either.

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    crawdad13 is being sassy 🙂

    RJD – yeah, same deal. For me it was California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. We could probably be part of a case study on the social habits of people who moved around a lot as kids (aside from military brats who at least had a bunch of peers that went through the same thing).

    You might get more out of going back than connections with individual people. You never know. I’ve been to homecoming at college (well, the football games) but not any of the other activities. No surprise…I didn’t do a good job of staying in touch with people from college either. Bet you are the same.

  16. Patblue says:

    I heard a theory the other day that you go to your 10 year to see how chubby people have gotten and see your old friends, you go to your 20 year (OUCH) to prove a point. That proving point could be that your are successful, you work somewhere, or you just found out who you were.  I went to my 10 year – and spent the entire weekend bragging and gloating over my good luck in finding great employement in Seattle and life.  I vowed to not EVER go to my 20 year reunion as I had proved my point. Now (creeping up on 20(OUCH) I feel like I want to go back and prove that I am really not a pompous ass, and that I have actually learned something about myself and grown up a little bit.  I spent all of high school trying to be cool, now that I think I am actually cool – none of them would care.  The other distraction is that 3 of my friends were pregnant at graduation, this means their kids are nearly  (20!)! One last time (OUUUCH).

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh Patblue, I’m not sure who told you those silly things; someone very self-involved, no doubt. I hope to get something out of my trip but I don’t feel like I have to prove anything. I will admit that I am so curious though. I think that the need to prove ones self is what leads to the asshattery. I truly hope to avoid that!

    We both know that I don’t care about the chubby thing and we both know why 😉 Really, the only difference between them and me would be time (and some hard work). There isn’t really anyone that I would wish anything like that on (OK, well maybe one person, but still), it won’t make me feel any better about me. I have what I want in life (well, about 90% there) and I don’t care to beat people about the head with that fact. Since I didn’t go to my ten, I won’t have to change peoples’ mind about who I was then. I assume everyone has done some growing personally.

    See what you did? You made me talk like Dr. Phil (speaking of pompous). Ugh, should I be scared to go back? I’m deciding to have fun and keep everything light.

    Oh, and also? Abuot the "cool" thing? Do we need to talk about your Crocs again? 🙂 You know I love you Patblue, and I think you are cool (despite footwear).

  18. Patblue says:

    HH- because of you (insert Kelly Clarkson song here), the Crocs are gone from my life.  I am flip flop only now.

    Good day.

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK guys, I’m back from the reunion. It was awesome and I am so glad I went. It made me a little sad that I hadn’t done a better job of stying in touch with people, but it’s amazing how the years kind of melt away after you start to spend time with your old friends again. I’ll do a separate blog post when I have some pictures. I had a camera but didn’t remember to get many photos. But I know that there are others that did.

  20. Pete from Glen Ellyn says:

    Well, I’ve been reading through this blog (actually, this is my first EVER entry into such a thing), as Heather mentioned it in her email to me, and I was curious to see what could be mentioned in such a thing.  Well, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with Heather and great conversation!  I cannot speak for Heather, but it was a blast.  Although, she appeared to be having a grrrreeaaat time!

    Although the social circles at GSHS were pretty well mixed (we all shared the desire to party!), Heather and I were casual acquaintances.  By all accounts, you all who have shared your experiences within these writings, and probably more within other type forums, have gotten to know Heather better than I ever have.

    But let me tell you this……….20 years have been kind to her.  Heather is a smart, confident and strongly opinionated person whose strength I found inspiring.  She was one of the first people I talked about in debriefing my wife about how much fun I had.

    There were a TON of people that I was extremely happy to see, many great conversations and probably too much Jack Daniels.  I’ve heard this about reunions.  10yr = bragging about your job and W2’s…20 yr = bragging about your kids (guilty – and discovering that the girl’s 20 years were MUCH kinder to them than the men…but we’ll catch up with them by 30 😉  )…30 yrs I hear is more about kids, life experiences and 40, happy to see each other alive.  I guess it’s what you make of it!

    Well, enough of my bantering, nice to make your acquaintance.

  21. HeatherLeigh says:

    Awww, Pete! Welcome to your first blog comment! And thanks for saying all those nice things. You haven’t changed that much yourself! Even though I didn’t recognize you at first when we were walking into South.

    That reunion was way too much fun! WAY too much! A good time was had by all, but only remembered by some 🙂

    It was fun getting to know you better! I heard a rumor that there’s going to be a 25th anniversary. If there is, I’m in.

  22. Brett says:

    Hey question did you go to Glenbard West because this just came up from something completely different that I googled and I live in Glen Ellyn so I personally find this rather fascinating so i was just curious if you attended West or South.

  23. Brett says:

    oh that’s so sad because West kicks South’s butt… we have windows…

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Honey, I don’t give a crap. I’m an adult. Someday you will be too and hopefully you will realize how stupid that comment was. There’s a big world outside of Glen Ellyn, Illinois and you are boasting about windows. Poor dear.

  25. Brett says:

    I am an adult (legally) as an eighteen year old, and I know there’s more to Glen Ellyn, considering ive been to eight different countries and three continents, next year will be attending the U of I engineering school (third best in the nation), and have been to 39 of the fifty states… so you can’t think you’re better than me because you were born 20 years earler than me… while you’re wasting your life blogging online i will be making 6 figures and actually doing something… seriously however, someone needs to teach you some manners and how to make polite conversation because obviously your parents failed

  26. HeatherLeigh says:

    Brett – you need to take your own advice. I’m not arguing with a high school kid.

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