I just returned from my high school reunion. Okay, I'll tell you. It was our 35th. I know a lot of folks who don't ever go to theirs. But then, they probably didn't grow up in Orrville, Ohio and graduate with the class of '74. For us, it's a chance to leave our normal lives for a bit and to be in a kind of magic. In a place where you never know who's going to make you laugh next. The old stories are still funny. The ones we created this weekend are good, too.
I wonder what our teachers would think if they could've peeked in on us without us knowing. I'm sure they'd be astonished. Because despite all those shenanagins that occured in their classrooms (like roadkill mysteriously placed in a desk), we've all somehow grown up to be people with jobs, Moms and Dads, people solving problems--big and small--some doing remarkable things, like curing the world.
Over the years, we've heard rumors that our teachers were glad to see us go. While we all somehow graduated, I don't think academics are the main reason we showed up every day. We showed up because we wanted to be together. We were good friends. Not just girls with girls and the boys with boys, but girls and boys were close, too. And we have this collective good sense of humor and constantly entertained each other. Which we con't to do at each and every reunion.
I heard lots of well wishes for my young adult novel, SHATTERED, that will be released on September 1st. Initially, in 2008 when my publisher made an offer on my manuscript, I emailed my classmates to share my good news. At our reunion, a year and a half later, I realized they were joyous for me, and all that happiness I had shared with them in 2008, came back to me in person at this reunion. It made me giddy. Like I had the best date to the prom, ever.
They are the reason I write for young adults. Growing up with them was a blessing. A world I want to go back to and can't, so I do it in my imagination. I seek their companionship each time I create a teen character. In my novel, Cassie has a sweet, hyper-organized, supportive best friend, Winnie. She also meets and dates a hottie--Nick--who is very nice and thoughtful. Many of these kinds of people make up my high school class. Throughout the reunion I kept thanking God and my lucky stars that I got to grow up with classmates like this.
My advice to teen readers: do your best work in school, but save time and energy to focus on your friends. These are some of the best times you will ever have. Be present. I promise you, if you do, the magic will double and triple over the years. I wish this for you: to be so LUCKY!