I was recently home in Philadelphia for a long weekend filled with family, friends, birds and an impromptu 10-mile road race. On Friday night, the main event: my high school reunion. I am too vain to say which one, but it will become obvious as you read on. I attended an all-girls school that gradually morphed into a coed curriculum by the end of high school. I feel incredibly lucky that some of the girls I graduated with, and have known since we were 12 (some of them had gone to school together since kindergarten!), are still among my closest friends.
Leading up to my reunion I stumbled upon a tattered envelope containing a questionnaire that I filled out just before graduation. My mother says she remembers me filling it out, but I have absolutely no recollection. It was given to us at our last reunion five years ago and I must have tucked it away some place very safe because it survived the move from SoHo to the South End. In this questionnaire my classmates and I were asked some of our fondest memories of Springside, our favorite teachers, who our friends were at the time (my list still stands up). The final question was the doozy: THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU ANSWER. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BE DOING OR WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR LIFE TO BE LIKE IN 10 YEARS?
Come on! Why did the teachers think this was a good idea? Did they want to drive us to the bar at our ten-year reunion?
I read my answer, which I will not repeat verbatim, because if you haven’t already assumed, the 18-year-old version of me got very specific about her future. My answer included living in Philadelphia (Chestnut Hill to be exact), my level of education (graduate degree), job (working in government or as a professor), I would be close with my parents (Awwww, I was such a sweet kid) and it detailed my anticipated marital and parental status (I thought I would have both a husband and a child by that point). I can understand how 18-year-old Emily would think 30 was a long way off. It was, I packed a lot of amazing and exhilarating experiences into my 20s, but did I really have to write “If I’m not married by 30???” Please note, I used not one, but three, question marks as if the world would end if I blew out 30 birthday candles without a ring on my finger. Again, I forgive my younger self for not being able to anticipate the whirlwind of a life she would have over seven glorious years in New York, or all she would accomplish.
Having said that, I had to wonder if I could somehow tell 18-year-old Emily that instead of all these things on her life list she would move to New York City hoping to become the next Katie Couric, but find her true passion behind the camera as a writer and producer, associate produce an Emmy-nominated documentary on U.S. Marines in Iraq, write for the longest-running (not to mention most loved) anchor team in the city, make amazing new friends, and keep the valuable old ones (old as in known them longer, we all still look pretty darn young if I do say so myself, see above and left), then leave it all by picking up and changing cities and careers – what would young Emily say? Would she be amazed or disappointed with the trajectory of her life? I can barely recognize myself in the girl who filled out that questionnaire years ago, so I think I may have to accept that she would not recognize herself in the woman I am today.
So I wasn’t married at 30, and I am still not married at 33. I may get married at 35, or heck, I could meet Mr. Right tomorrow and run off to Vegas before anyone even reads this post. I have had the most amazing journey thus far, filled with amazing friends, relationships that have taught me a great deal, an ever-supportive family, and accomplishments — large and small — that I am infinitely proud of. Most importantly, and in part through this blog, that journey gets more and more interesting every day.