I just came back from my 20th high school reunion. And if that number 20 alone doesn't boggle your mind...this series of numbers might.
13 hours in a car alone with
3 kids to spend
12 hours with friends from
20 years ago.
I actually made the decision to go about a week before the event itself as I wasn't sure if I had the guts to drive all the way to southern California alone. I spent a good amount of time trying to convince other classmates from the Bay Area to join me so that I wouldn't drive solo but they were not convinced. I would have to conquer the road and seven hours driving alone. I decided that this was something too great to be missed and decided to do the drive, even if it meant that I had no co-pilot (or at least a second voice to help me tame Son and Daughters).
While driving down, I had many hours to think about what was to come in the next 48 hours of spending time with my old friends and potentially old enemies. In between trying to pacify Son and Daughters in the car and repeatedly answering the question ,"Are we there YET?" I thought about my high school years. I mostly remembered the learning, fantastic teachers, time with friends, great relationships, funny jokes and silly antics, but I did have moments to reflect on the pain as well. I experienced some cruelty at the hands of some who didn't know better at the time, but nontheless cruelty that hurt me very much when I was young. It is an experience that I pray Son and Daughters never have, although I know that it made me stronger. Thinking of those harder moments added some fear to my excitement and my palms got very sweaty as I drove and yelled at Son and Daughters on the way to the reunion.
I think I mostly wondered about how people would be after not having seen each other for 20 years. My school was very small and my graduating class had maybe 93 people. During high school everyone knew everyone's name and so this reunion would be rather intimate. All faces would be familiar but perhaps not all the names would be remembered. In my mind I mentally cataloged which faces would be familiar and which names would roll off my tongue. I also remembered the faces that were kind and those that were cruel. The first night of our reunion (ours is over two days) my classmates and I met at a restaurant where one of our classmates is the executive chef. It ended up being one of the more surreal and interesting evenings I've had in a long while. I heard the voices I had not heard in many years, and yet found those voices strangely familiar and comforting. And I laughed so much. It was fun seeing how much people had changed and seeing how much people had not changed. I felt lucky that most people thought I still looked as I did in high school, but I attribute that to the low lighting in the restaurant and the quantity of alcohol consumed.
What was most interesting to me was the collective graciousness of everyone present. In this space, with old friends and acquaintances, twenty years of separation seemingly melted away. Old friends, although we had not spoken in twenty years suddenly were friends again, with the same laughter and same warmth. The people that were not close to me or even friends with me in high school tried to remember my name, came pretty close and were effusively sharing with me about their lives. People listened to one another and shared the history of past years that had not been told. Even those who had been cruel to me in high school suddenly were different people, kinder people, a gentler people. I think friend JL analyzed it best when she said that at the ten year reunion, there is still cockiness, obnoxiousness, and a lack of humility; after all, most people are five or six years out of college, still young and invincible. However, the second ten years, the years after are when real life happens - the life that knocks you down, makes you struggle and causes pain. The collective suffering and struggles in the room that night, the failed marriages, divorces, job losses, mental struggles, addictions, death of loved ones, and bankruptcies made the entire class grow into more humble people who understand life a bit better than they did twenty or even ten years ago.
What it really made me want to do was have a party and invite all my old friends over to my house. I spent part of the evening with another friend trying to convince southern California residents back up north for a visit. I want to cook for these old friends. I want to feed them. I want to make them enjoy food and have fun with me. I would cook this salad as one of the items I think, because it is delicious and really is easy to prepare. Perhaps with this post, I'll entice those said friends up north for a fabulous meal and lots more laughter and fun.
Asian Steak Salad with Mushrooms and Ginger Dressing
adapted from Bon Appetit | November 2010
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili sauce)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup cilantro
Whisk ingredients together. Set aside.
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, quartered
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
In a large non-stick pan (you will use this same pan to cook the steaks, so plan accordingly) heat vegetable oil. Add mushrooms; saute until browned, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.
2 12 ounce ribeye steaks
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Rub 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil on each side of each ribeye steak. Sprinkle steaks with salt, pepper, and toasted sesame seeds. Press firmly to adhere. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil to skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Slice.
8 cups mixed greens
Toss mixed greens with dressing in large bowl. Divide greens among plates. Top with steak slices and mushrooms and serve.
Come on over guys! I'll get this ready for you in a jiffy!