High School Confidential: Memo to the Class of ’82 Reunion Committee

(I’m in this mob somewhere. I think. It’s hard to tell from here, and I was the smallest person in the class.)

Aside from the classmate who was my first husband and my son’s father, there are very few people in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Catholic High School Class of 1982 that I’ve kept in touch with on any regular basis since we graduated. But I’ve learned plans are in the works for our 30th class reunion(!!) on the weekend of June 29th, and if Facebook activity is an indicator, it looks like people are starting to reconnect in anticipation of that.

Please accept my regrets; I won’t be making it to the 30th reunion. Then again, I didn’t get to the 10th, 15th, 20th, or 25th either, so I doubt anyone expected anything different this year. I haven’t lived in St. Pete for almost 25 years (and haven’t been back there at all since my mother died in October 1999); I’ve lost my acclimation to the subtropical heat, and in all honesty, it’s highly unlikely that anything would lure me back there in the summertime of any year.

Since we won’t be seeing each other in person, I’m sending my crash-course catch-up on the last 30 years.

I didn’t become a lawyer or an artist (although I did, eventually, marry an artist). I never got any taller, although I definitely grew rounder. I became an accountant (like my father) and, eventually, a writer (like my sister); and for almost 28 of the 30 years since we left SPCHS, I’ve been a mother. And through it all, I have never stopped being a reader.

And now, the highlight reel:

  • 1984: Got married (to the aforementioned classmate), and changed my name
  • 1984: Gave birth to my only child, a son
  • 1987: Graduated from university (USF St. Petersburg, College of Business)
  • 1987: Moved to Ithaca, New York (for husband’s graduate studies and my first job in nonprofit accounting)
  • 1991: Moved to Memphis, Tennessee (for husband’s post-grad career and my next job in nonprofit accounting)
  • 1997: Got a dog and bought a house (in that order)
  • 1998–2002: Worked in a zoo (literally), doing nonprofit accounting
  • 2002: Got divorced (from the aforementioned classmate) after 18 years and sold the house, but kept the last name (and one of the two dogs)
  • 2002: Son graduated from high school and went off to university; I moved to Los Angeles, California–my sister and father were already here–and got another job in nonprofit accounting
  • 2005: Tried online dating, and met my match
  • 2006: Married my match, and got his two children as part of the deal; added their last name to the one I already had (you can now find me on Facebook as Florinda Lantos Pendley Vasquez)
  • 2007–present: Became a blogger, online writer, and social-media presence, known to hundreds (?) as Florinda3Rs…while still working in nonprofit accounting

As you might notice, there have been some Major Life Events that roughly coincided with prior class reunions, which is one reason I haven’t been to any of them. Geography is another, especially now that I’m a cross-country plane flight away. And frankly, after all this time, it’s become a habit not to go.

In any case, I’m sure the reunion will be a lovely time, but I suck at party talk and communicate more comfortably in writing, as I’ve done here, so maybe it’s for the best if I don’t change that habit. And maybe we can have our own reunion online instead. See you on Facebook?

I digress: Every now and then, I get a Facebook friend request from a high-school classmate. They don’t come very often–I moved away from the city where I attended high school almost 25 years ago, and out of sight’s been out of mind, mostly, on both sides–but I usually accept them when they do. I wonder if our approaching class reunion will bring more of us out of the social-media woodwork to make “friends” with each other–regardless of whether we were friends back then. 

When I checked out the timeline of a classmate I recently friended, I saw a lot of names in her friend list that rang bells–dull, distant bells, perhaps, but I still heard them. And in all honesty, the bells rung by a few names on that list didn’t make a very pretty sound. I might still be holding a few grudges…there are some classmates I’ve “lost touch” with by deliberate choice. (And some probably feel the same way about me.) 

Since reunions are for reminiscing, let’s flash back and see what we remember about senior year! I originally posted the following almost four years ago, so it’s almost like new (except that it’s old). I’d love to see your answers to these questions…I stole this meme in the first place, so feel free to do the same!

Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be! (The real fun would be making up what you can’t remember.)

I’d like to say I was surprised how much I do remember, but unfortunately I’m not. The emotional memories of high school have taken a long time to fade, and come back up pretty easily for me, like it or not; the factual memories seem to come right along with them.
1. Did you date someone from your school?
Not until two weeks after graduation…he eventually became my husband, and later my ex-husband. But I really didn’t date anyone in high school – not that counted as “dating,” anyway.

2. Did you win anything in Seniors ‘Who’s Who’?
No…I don’t think I was enough of a “who” even to be nominated for anything.
3. What kind of car did you drive?
My dad’s station wagon – but not unless he was in the car too, since I only had a restricted license. I didn’t get a full license till the summer after graduation.
4. It’s Friday night…where are you?
I wish I remembered. The fact I don’t is due to the fact I probably wasn’t anywhere interesting, not that the time was lost in an alcoholic haze. I might have been at home, at the movies, or at a friend’s house; maybe at the mall. During the fall, I was probably at a football game, believe it or not.
5. Were you a party animal?
Not at all. I didn’t even find out about most parties. My sister and I gave the only parties that were actually known for the food. She had ambitions for a catering career at the time – and her parties are still known for the food, even though these days she mostly gives them for her kids’ birthdays. On a side note, my parents owned a package store (Connecticut term for a liquor store) for several years while I was in grade school; had that been while I was in high school instead, I might have been much more popular…
6. Were you considered a flirt?
Not as far as I know – more of a smartass, really. Still am.
7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
Chorus, we called it – for three out of four years. I was booted out during ninth grade and welcomed back the next year – Mr. Smith was always desperate for people who could carry a tune and would put up with him. I sang first soprano; I probably should have been a second, but found harmony a bit too challenging. (Ah, that might be a metaphor…)
8. Were you a nerd?
Without a doubt. I just didn’t know then how to take the pride in it that I have now.
9. Did you get suspended/expelled?
I don’t think I even got detention.
10. Can you sing the fight song?

“We are the Barons, mighty and proud,
Onward toward our victory we’re bound,
Standing strong in unity
Our spirit will always be (hey hey hey!)”

To the tune of the Notre Dame fight song, of course (like hundreds of other Catholic high schools, I’m sure)
11. Who were your favorite teachers?
My Spanish teacher, Mrs. Hartley, and a couple of the English teachers, Mrs. Gregg and Mr. Wolstenholme.
12. Where did you sit during lunch?
It depended which of our buildings I was in at lunchtime. I preferred to sit outside at one of the picnic tables rather than in the cafeteria, whenever possible. In Florida, it was actually possible pretty often. (Oh, did you mean something like “at the cool kids’ table”? Never.)
13.What was your school’s full name?
St. Petersburg Catholic High School. It had been formed about ten years earlier from the merger of Bishop Barry (boys’) and Notre Dame (girls’) high schools in St. Petersburg, Florida.
14. School mascot?
Some sort of knight on a horse – the Baron, I guess.
15. Were you on homecoming court?
No. I don’t think I even went to the homecoming dance that year. Also, that was the only year I didn’t work on my class’ “Victory Hall” decorations for the homecoming game, and we came in dead last in the contest. Coincidence? Probably, but I’d like to think not entirely. I was pretty well-known for my drawing in those days, so without me, they were just not up to it. 🙂 I used to sketch almost as much as I read back when I was in school, but I haven’t done any serious drawing in years. I think it’s been supplanted by writing now. I did marry an art major (the second time), but it hasn’t really encouraged me to start sketching again. It’s more the opposite – that’s his domain. Plus, he’s trained and very talented, and I’m really neither, so I don’t pick up a pencil all that often.
16. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
I’m reliving it through my kids. That’s quite close enough, thank you. 
17. What do you remember most about graduation?
I lost a contact lens when the tassel on my mortarboard hit me in the eye at the Baccalaureate service – but I also won the foreign-language award for Spanish, so it wasn’t all bad. I rode to the ceremony with a guy who was becoming a friend again – the same one I started dating two weeks later. I was the second person to receive a diploma – we were lined up by height. (My friend Teri and I were at the head of the lines – we’re the same height, or lack of it, believe it or not.) I didn’t get invited to any of the parties.

18. Where did you go senior skip day?
I mentioned it was a Catholic school, right? What is this “skip day” of which you speak? We weren’t even allowed off campus during lunch.
20.Were you in any clubs?
Let’s see, I already mentioned Chorus…school newspaper, drama club, International Club, and National Honor Society. I think that was it, and I really don’t want to dig out my yearbook and check. And speaking of drama club, I’m actually a two-time high-school-musical dropout.
21. Who was your Senior prom date?
Tony. He was a tenth-grader from my church youth group – a really nice kid. I went to prom just to go, though. The real fun was Grad Night at Disney World. I went with my friend Rick, and that was a good time.
22. Are you planning on going to your 10 20 25 30 year reunion?
Guess I answered that earlier in this post, huh?
23. Do you still talk to people from high school?
Other than my ex-husband, not really. Oh, and my sister, but that’s different. There’s always Facebook, though…

Class reunions–have you been to any? Was it worth it?

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