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Fortunately, technology brought the last class of the century back together just when life’s transitions demanded extra support.In the eighth grade, our class took a field trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota, about a two-hour bus ride from our small-town school in Wisconsin.If Facebook is any indication, many of these friend groups still exist, but as time blended us up and spit us out across geographical, financial, and professional landscapes, those clique divisions became hazier. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. and we’ve competed at international athletic competitions, published books, and performed life-saving surgeries. A wide grin beneath the mortar board on graduation night, our younger siblings beside us, a look on despair in their eyes knowing they’re on their own now to fight the parental wrath.
As one of 17 valedictorians in my class (yes, you read that right), I’d talked my way into what I considered to be the desired final speaking position.
I wanted the proverbial final word—and it wasn’t about friendships or memories, thankfulness or nostalgia.
In high school, we swooned to boy bands and carried quarters so we could “arrive alive” after a teenage drinking binge.
In middle school, we walked straight to airport gates to greet our grandparents as they tumbled off flights, rumpled in button-down shirts and pantyhose.
Staying connected took work with occasional phone calls or a snail mail letter, and news sometimes felt achingly slow to arrive when it couldn’t be sent by text.
Yet, as we started venturing from college to career, we reconnected through My Space then Facebook groups specifically started to bring us back together.
We no longer need each other’s approval to start smoking or quit pack-a-day habits, date or divorce, move home or move abroad. Our choices were half chance, and no one — including and especially ourselves — could have written anticipated our future paths as we prepared to graduate. We developed relationships — good and bad — in person, formed over uninterrupted conversations and through in-person interactions instead of avatars.
We flew free from pre-conceived expectations from our home towns.
Given a healthy dose of summer road trips growing up, a jaunt over the St.
Croix River didn’t faze me at 13, but this was the first time some of my classmates ever left the state.